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Here’s What We Thought Earth Would Look Like from Space

Before we actually went to space, we had some ideas about what Earth might look like

(Library of Congress)

These days, we have a lot of images of Earth from space. Which is awesome. But before we went to space, we had some ideas about what Earth might look like, too.

Recently, the Library of Congress featured a few of those images on its blog.Here’s one from 1874, in a book called The Moon: Considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite.

Trevor Owens, a special curator for the library’s Science Literacy Initiative writes:

The images in this book are mostly photographs of plaster models based on observations of amateur astronomer James Nasmyth. Most of the images in this book are modeled on their direct observations, but this one represents the view of the Earth from the moon. Part of considering the moon as a world, a place like Earth, required this kind of shift in perspective. Seeing the Earth eclipse the sun from the Moon makes it feel much more like a real world.

In 1893, the book Astronomy for Beginners featured this image of Earth from an unnamed viewpoint in their chapter on “Visitors.”


In 1898, the book The Story of the Sun, Moon, and Stars included this image of the Earth seen from the moon.


Here, we have an image from Camille Fammarion from 1904. The little arrow points to Earth as it might look from the surface of Mercury:


In 1920, the science fiction book A Trip to Mars included this illustration of Earth from the red planet:


And here, for context, is what the Earth looks like from the moon, taken by the Apollo 8 crew in 1968.


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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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