We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the earth.
— William Anders
William Anders left Texas faster than any human had ever traveled before - rockets launched him into space and he and the other crew of the Apollo 8 traveled for three days before reaching the moon and becoming the first people ever to see its hidden side.
On Christmas Eve 1968, while on the dark side of the moon William Anders took this photograph of the distant earth rising over the horizon. Originally labeled image AS8-14-2383, as it captured the public imagination it became known simply as 'Earthrise'.
This photograph triggered a fundamental paradigm shift; it changed the way we thought about ourselves and our relationships to each other and the environment. This image allowed us to conceive of 'the planet' as opposed to 'the world', and seeing the earth floating; beautiful, tiny and fragile in the void of space inspired a movement of environmental consciousness which is still active today. This Christmas Eve will be the fortieth anniversary of breaking of that old gestalt - which is worth a little reflection perhaps.
No one, it has been said, will ever look at the Moon in the same way again. More significantly can one say that no one will ever look at the earth in the same way. Man had to free himself from earth to perceive both its diminutive place in a solar system and its inestimable value as a life -fostering planet. As earthmen, we may have taken another step into adulthood. We can see our planet earth with detachment, with tenderness, with some shame and pity, but at last also with love.
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 'Earth Shine,' 1969.