Earthrise, Then and Now

On December 24, 1968, astronauts aboard Apollo 8, making the first human trip around the moon, stumbled upon a most beautiful scene – an "Earthrise." Almost 40 years later (in 2007), Japan's Kaguya satellite captured footage of the same scene unfolding: an Earthrise and also this time an Earthset. If you click on the preceding links, you will see some pretty wonderful still shots in HD.


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  • I’m not sure I understand this photo. It would seem as though the moon turns, but I thought the same hemisphere of the moon always faced the earth: if you’re on the back side of the moon, you don’t ever see the earth, if you’re on the earth side, you ALWAYS see the earth. (The earth, of course, rotates, so we see the moon rise and set.)

    What’s going on here?

  • Mike says:

    Leisureguy,
    It’s true, the Moon spins around its axis at the same rate it orbits the Earth. So an observer fixed to the surface of the Moon would (assuming he’s on our side of the Moon, of course) see Earth in the same place all the time. The reason the Earth appears to “rise” in these images is because Apollo 8 and Kaguya were themselves traveling around the Moon. (if you look closely at the footage above you’ll see the surface of the Moon rolling underneath the camera.) Here’s an interesting page with more information:
    http://www.planetary.org/blog/article/00001238/

  • Faupel says:

    it’s not that the earth is LITERALLY rising on the moons horizon i don’t think. in the Apollo mission, they were rounding the earth and only had 2 minutes of the sight upon the 4th orbit of the moon. I think it was that THEY were orbiting the moon, and it just looked like an earthrise because of how they were coming around the moon

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