The Apollo 8 mission was the first to successfully orbit the moon and the first manned craft to escape Earth’s gravitational pull (as the primary gravitationally attractive object).
The mission was launched on December 21, 1968, and it landed December 27, 1968. On Christmas Eve (UTC), the crew (Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders) saw something that no human had ever seen in -person: Earth rising over the lunar horizon, on December 24, 40 years ago.
Why Is This on a PseudoAstronomy Blog?
The purpose of this blog is not to really post news nor pretty pictures nor random religious holiday messages. Rather, a photograph of Earth from the moon is directly relevant to two things I’ve discussed before – the Apollo Moon “Hoax” and the Flat Earth Society.
Both claim that we never actually went to the moon. The first does so through many different, random claims that fail to create any cohesive story as to what “really” happened. The latter do so really out of necessity – when you believe the Earth is flat and that a giant glass dome holds the air in, you kinda have to reject any of this modern space-age stuff (such as going to the moon, weather satellites, or even GPS).
The purpose of this very brief post is not to get into those claims here, but rather to remind my readers that actually do think we’ve been to the moon what those pioneers went through. Imagine being one of those three men, watching that small blue marble rise over the barren lunar landscape, and thinking that all of our history – from dinosaurs to cars, bacteria to your kitchen blender – happened on that small blue globe floating in the inky blackness of space.
And now, 40 years later, there are people who vehemently deny the trip was ever taken.
For further reading, Time magazine has a good article on this.