The famous Earthrise photo from Apollo 8 is not what the astronauts saw and photographed. Here’s where to get the original, uncropped images from the source.
Cropped, rotated & color adjusted: the common version of ‘Earthrise’.
Earthrise is one of the most famous images of all time and rightly so. Among the many achievements of Apollo 8, the astronauts Borman, Lovell and Anders were the first humans to see the entire Earth as a single object.
Not well known is that the Earthrise photo is a rotated, cropped and color adjusted version of the original image. And there were three Earthrise photos taken by two different astronauts.
What does this have to do with Microsoft Office? Nothing really. Our Editor-in-Chief, Peter Deegan, is a livelong space nerd and can’t help himself. If you need an excuse, by all means use these images in PowerPoint slides or Windows desktop.
Cropped and Rotated Earthrise
There are many copies of Earthrise available on the Internet but the most authoritative source is NASA.
Go to NASA’s Image Features here and download a decent resolution version.
Be aware there are other similar and faked versions of the Apollo 8 Earthrise available.
Apollo 11 has this similar photo, available from NASA in a variety of resolutions.
The very first Earthrise photo was taken by the unmanned Lunar Orbiter 1 in 1966. A grainy black & white shot
There are later simulations that look similar to the original Apollo 8 photos.
Earthrise original – Black and White
The first of the three Earthrise photos was taken by Mission Commander Frank Borman. A B&W image available from NASA with the poetic name AS08-13-2329 (Apollo 8, Roll 13, Frame 2329). Available for download in various sizes up to 4400×4600 pixels.
Earthrise original – Color – the source for Earthrise
Bill Anders was at another window of the Command Module and get very excited (by astronaut standards). He called to Jim Lovell to hurry with some color film for the camera. (young readers, ask your parents about ‘film’ and other 20th Century antiques).
So the next photo has the Earth higher above the horizon as Apollo 8 moves around the moon.
This is the shot that was edited to make the cover of Life Magazine and make us all look at our planet in a different way.
AS08-14-2383 Available for download in various sizes up to 4400×4600 pixels.
Earthrise original – Color 2 – the other Earthrise
A few seconds later, Bill Anders took another photo.
AS08-14-2384 Available for download in various sizes up to 4400×4600 pixels.
Cropped and Rotated
The original photo was ‘vertical’ and much wider than the photo we’re used to seeing. Aside from rotation and cropping there’s some color adjustment to make the space background look truly black.
Side-by-side comparison: original photo (left, rotated but not cropped or color adjusted) and famous Earthrise (right)
The cropped photo is more effective as an image but gives a wrong impression of how large the Earth appeared to the astronauts. Even at the relatively close quarters of the Moon, the Earth is tiny against the vast blackness.