Details
Taken by a Kodak camera aboard the Lunar Orbiter I spacecraft

First Earthrise

Lunar Orbiter I, August 23, 1966

Large-format vintage gelatin silver print on fiber-based paper, 51 x 61cm (20 X 24 in), numbered “NASA LRC I-102H2” (NASA Langley) on the recto in right margin
51 x 61cm (20 X 24 in)
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Lot Essay

This is the large-format first version, assembled by NASA Langley Research Center following transmission to Earth on August 23, 1966, of one of the most important and emblematic photographs of space exploration.

This high resolution photograph was taken looking west with the 610mm telephoto lens over the 233-km Crater Pasteur (cut off at right) and the 173-km Crater Hilbert (cut off at left). The view is centered on a point of latitude: 14.68° S, longitude 104.34° E on the lunar farside.

The photograph gave for the first time to humans a view of their Home Planet as a globe in space. It was also the first time humans saw their planet from the vantage point of another world.

“Also visible in dramatic new perspective in this photograph is the singularly bleak Iunar landscape, its tortured features evidently hammered out by a cosmic bombardment that may have extended over billions of years” (Cortright, p. 185).

Describing the spectacular, historic view, Floyd Thompson, then Director, Langley Research Center, wrote: “At 16:35 GMT on August 23, 1966, the versatile manmade Lunar Orbiter spacecraft responded to a series of commands sent to it from Earth, across a quarter-million miles of space, and made this over-the-shoulder view of its home planet from a vantage point 730 miles above the far side of the Moon. At that moment, the Sun was setting along an arc extending from England [on the right] to Antarctica [on the left]. Above that line, the world, with the east coast of the United States at the top, was still bathed in afternoon sunlight. Below, the major portion of the African Continent and the Indian Ocean were shrouded in the darkness of evening” (Cortright, pp. 84-85).

“By this reversal of viewpoint, we here on the Earth have been provided a sobering glimpse of the spectacle of our own planet as it will be seen by a few of our generation in their pursuit of the manned exploration of space. We have achieved the ability to contemplate ourselves from afar and thus, in a measure, accomplish the wish expressed by Robert Burns: ‘To see ourselves as others see us!’”
Floyd Thompson, NASA Langley Research Center (Cortright, pp. 84-85)

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