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Remembering 1968: How Apollo 8 sent a timeless Christmas greeting from heaven

Although the moon seems so familiar, we barely know it. Few souls have ever ventured back and forth, and of those who did, only a few are left.

Bill Anders is one of them who still flies up at the age of 85. As a correspondent Lee Cowan noted, it is hard to look an Apollo astronaut in the eye, which these eyes have especially seen.

Fifty years ago this Christmas Eve, he and the crew of Apollo 8 saw our home like no one else, like a Christmas ornaments over the moon.

"It was ironic that we had done everything This work should come and explore the moon, and what we really discovered was the earth," said Anders.

It was the year 1

968. This year, Christmas did not seem to be much. War, riots, assassinations – the mood was barely festive, said the author of a recent book on Apollo 8, Jeffrey Kluger. "This was a year of grief and suffering and massive bloodshed," said Kluger.

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" And at the end of the year, we had this moment to make this grand Thing to do. It was a coincidence that said, "Humanity, you guys deserve a break, make the most of it."

The launch of Apollo 8 was scheduled just four days before Christmas. The capsule, which was on the most powerful machine man ever built, looked tiny and is still where it sits in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

"I suddenly found myself 360 feet tall," recalls astronomer Jim Lovell, sitting in the middle seat. "I looked down and the media came to park their cars, it was still dark and I thought to myself," They're sending me to the moon!

The commander of Apollo 8, Frank Borman said: "My biggest memory of Saturn V was the noise. There is no way to simulate or train the noise this beast emits. "

Borman knew this would be a mission full of firsts – no human being had traveled on and on, if all went well, it would be Humanity never equaled, but for Borman, only a first one was really important: "I wanted to go to the moon and come back alive because I knew this would beat the Russians."

So everyone – including the Russians – liked theirs TV Although it seemed as if we were with them, Apollo 8 was really very alone.

"I could thumb up to the window and hide the earth completely," Lovell said, "you have to think about it – over five billion people, all I ever knew was behind my thumb! "

Correspondent Lee Cowan asked," Did you say anything? I mean, this was the first time Humanity had ever left Earth's magnetism. "

" I think that was our least concern! "Lovell laughed."

After all, they did not just go to the moon, they wanted to circle it ten times.

But then it happened: On holy evening, these lonely, barren places got some people with great joy.

Lovell said: "We are like three schoolchildren looking at a candy store window, watching the old, old craters on the other side, slipping slowly below us. "

But the description of what they saw turned out to be as heavy as coming up." I said it looked like dirty beach sand, "Anders recalls," that's how I described it, and with it the wrath of the poets won all over the world! Could not you make it better? "" Probably! "

In the end, they really did not need words. It turned out that a single photo would speak most of it – a shot of the earth appearing above the horizon.

"Wow, is that pretty!"

The problem was that they had a valuable little movie on board. with what they had, the moon should be photographed, not the earth. It's different anyway.

Anders said, "Even if that was not in the flight plan … damn it, you know, here was a nice shot."

"Give me a roll of color, fast!"

Known as "Earthrise," it became one of the most reproduced images ever, in part because no other photograph took our place in the universe ( our little place, at that time) so summarized:

The Earth as seen by the astronauts aboard Apollo 8, 24. December 1968, was photographed. Life Magazine would put it at the top of the list of 100 photographs that changed our world.


"" This was just a glimmer of hope and awe, "said former vice president Al Gore. It showed the way to a new understanding of who we are as human beings, even for a brief moment. "[19659002] For the environmental crusader, this image was a testament to how fragile our world is: it is the spirit behind the Climate Change exhibition at the American Natural History Museum in New York and is at the heart of almost every climate presentation Gore has ever given

Cowan asked: "Can one say that a picture is one of the biggest catalysts for the environmental movement?"

"Oh, no question," Gore replied, within a year-and a half the first day of the earth had been organized [and] The impulse came in Congress for the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, which transformed the environmental movement into what it became immediately after this picture. "

It alone could have been enough to make Apollo 8 the place of conscience Secure humanity. But it was not the last word.

On this Christmas Eve, the crew sent a Christmas message to the world.

Cowan asked, "Do you have any idea how many people would listen and watch?"

"Well, it was man It was said that we had the largest audience that had ever listened to a human voice before," Borman said.

But what can you say? What words would go through the heavens in one of the holiest nights of the year?

The astronauts opted for those who already came from the Genesis book

. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form and empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep …"

Kluger said, "It was perfect, it was the words Of three in a way very ordinary people, I always say that they had very big bucket names: Frank, Bill and Jim, what could be more human than that? "

Cowan asked Borman," Did you know at the time what effects this would have would? "

" No, but when we flew and when we thought about it, we all agreed that we could not have done anything better. "

Apollo 8 came at the end of one of our most turbulent years, at one time It was all about peace. "We received thousands of telegrams after the flight, but the one who impressed me the most said," Thank you, Apollo 8. You saved 1968, "Borman said," and I think so "We've helped to heal it."

"And by the crew of Apollo 8, we conclude with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless you all on the Good Earth.

See also:
See also: 19659002]
More information:

History of Reid Orvedahl.

More from our series "Rem Glut 1968":

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