Iconic Earthrise Photo Animated—See What the Astronauts Saw

NASA has created a video of what Earthrise must have looked like to the Apollo 8 astronauts who snapped the famous December 24, 1968, photo that inspired Earth Day.

The photograph titled “Earthrise,” taken on Christmas Eve 1968, is credited with sparking the environmental movement and inspiring Earth Day, which was declared in 1972.

NASA has created a video depiction of what those astronauts on Apollo 8 must have seen as they rounded the moon and saw Mother Earth rising majestically above her satellite's horizon. They grabbed a camera and snapped some photos from their small craft. Over the years the photo has come to symbolize the delicacy of Earth, her survival against all spacial odds.

In honor of Earth Day 2012, NASA used detailed maps of the moon's surface culled from data gathered by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to recreate something akin to what the three astronauts saw. Overlook the cheesy music and concentrate on the audio in this video, and you may get a feel for what it must have been like in the cockpit when Commander Frank Borman and crew members William A. Anders and James A. Lovell Jr. beheld Mother Earth rise majestically, yet oh so small, over the moon's horizon as they flew low over the satellite's surface.

Also see these other photos of Mother Earth from Space, posted on Earth Day 2012.