This is one of those photographs that we all have seen on glossy magazine pages, a bit rough textbook pages, coffee table books, newspapers, billboards, TV and almost everywhere else! But yet only few of us have ever thought that it was a very special photograph that we were looking at. The reason behind this oblivion is that there are hundreds of thousands of other similar photos available. The subject of the photo, although always traveling, does not go anywhere and always appears more or the less same.
The famous and iconic photograph that I am talking about today is called the “Blue Marble” —a photograph of earth taken at 5:39 a.m. EST (10:39 UTC) on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft at a distance of about 45,000 kilometers from the surface. Do you know that the Blue Marble is probably the most widely circulated photos in the world’s history?… Well, this is true!
The photograph shows a fully illuminated earth which gives it an impression of a glass marble. The credit of taking this photo is officially given to the entire crew of Apollo 17 (the crew included: Jack Schmitt and Eugene Cernan and Ronald Evans). Actually the crew took a number of similar photographs in quick succession. Later NASA chose photo number AS17-148-22727 of this series to be titled as the Blue Marble. It was the first ever clear image of fully illuminated earth.
NASA’s website gives us finer details of this photograph:
View of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew traveling toward the moon. This translunar coast photograph extends from the Mediterranean Sea area to the Antarctica south polar ice cap. This is the first time the Apollo trajectory made it possible to photograph the south polar ice cap. Note the heavy cloud cover in the Southern Hemisphere. Almost the entire coastline of Africa is clearly visible. The Arabian Peninsula can be seen at the northeastern edge of Africa. The large island off the coast of Africa is the Malagasy Republic. The Asian mainland is on the horizon toward the northeast.
The original photo was actually upside down i.e. the South Pole was on top. This happened because of the orientation of spacecraft. NASA rotated the image before distributing it outside. Now NASA also applies the term Blue Marble to any other similar photographs of earth. Therefore now there are lots of blue marbles in circulation. But you know which one is the original.
There is another very famous photograph of the planet earth. It’s called the Pale Blue Dot and it is no where as beautiful as Blue Marble. Nevertheless, both these photographs show the ever growing desire of mankind to explore and know the reality of our world and the universe.
What do you think of this photograph and the story behind it? Please comment and give your feedback as it helps me in writing better content for my readers. Thank you for reading and stay connected with my website as I will continue to bring stories on more iconic photographs for you.