How Astronauts Nearly Missed Taking the Iconic Earthrise Photo on Christmas Eve, 1968

Somebody get me the damn color film!
More
NASA

Forty-five years ago today, Christmas Eve 1968, astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders saw something no human had ever seen before—our planet as it appeared to rise over the moon's horizon.

Their picture of that sight is one of the most iconic images of the 20th century. But they almost missed taking it: The Earth disappears from their view just seconds after they successfully located the color film. Without that picture, the power of that moment, the perspective it conveys, would never have been seen by the billions of humans whom it has touched in the years since.

A new video from NASA weaves together the audio recordings from inside the orbiter with illustrations and modern lunar imagery to tell the story of how that photo came to be, and how it almost didn't.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

How have stories changed in the age of social media? The minds behind House of Cards, This American Life, and The Moth discuss.


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In