NASA Recreated the Moment When Apollo 8 Astronauts Captured the Iconic Earthrise Photograph

Cockpit recordings and modern mapping are used to show what, exactly, the astronauts were seeing out their windows when Earthrise was photographed

Image: NASA

It's one of the most well-known photographs from space—“Earthrise,” the Earth, rising above the lunar horizon, as captured by Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders.

In the Apollo 8 spacecraft, a cockpit recorder was taping the excited conversation of the three astronauts—Frank Borman, James Lovell and Bill Anders—as the rising Earth popped into view.

Working with those cockpit recordings, and with lunar mapping data captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA has put together a gripping video, a intricate look at what, exactly, the NASA astronauts would have been seeing out their windows when Earthrise was photographed.

NASA | Earthrise: The 45th Anniversary

According to Andrew Chaikin for the Planetary Society, who spoke with NASA's Ernie Wright, who helped make the video:

You can actually hear the Hasselblad's shutter and motorized film advance on the tape (and on the new video), as Anders snaps these historic photographs. That allowed Ernie to pin down the exact moment at which each image was taken.

The video is very reminiscent of another, a full-length movie called First Orbit, which combined cockpit recordings of Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin's 1961 trip into space with matching footage captured from the International Space Station.

First Orbit - the movie

Both videos give a glimpse of spaceflight as it really is, a slow, barren, but sometimes beautiful journey—a far cry from the hyperspeed timelapses that permeate our recent portrayals of life in orbit.

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