SOL SYSTEM Earth -- 22 Dec 1968 -- Before humanity ventured to the Moon, our view of our home planet consisted of what we could see from horizon to horizon.
SOL SYSTEM Earth -- 22 Dec 1968 -- Before humanity ventured to the Moon, our view of our home planet consisted of what we could see from horizon to horizon. It was not until this stunning photo (along with many others) came back to Earth with the Apollo 8 astronauts in late December 1968 that we saw Earth as a vibrant, delicate, blue and white globe framed by the velvety blackness of space. From the great distance of the Moon, nearly the entire Western Hemisphere is visible. Clouds cover much of North America in the upper left, but the distinctive coastline of the southeastern United States and the Florida peninsula are clearly visible. A break in the clouds in the far north provides a glimpse of eastern Canada and the mouth of the St Lawrence River. The whole of South America is visible, its southern tip, Tierra del Fuego, hidden beneath clouds at the bottom of the globe. This photo clearly shows the impact of the Andes Mountains on the continent‚Äôs weather and vegetation. The mountains, which run down the western side of South America, are barriers to westward moving storms. To the west of the mountains is Earth‚Äôs driest desert, the Atacama Desert, and to the east is its largest rainforest, the Amazon Rainforest. The contrast is clear in this photo: the only clear land in South America is the brown desert along the west coast. The rest of the continent is cloudy. The western edge of the image is ringed by the blue Pacific Ocean. In the east is the bulge of West Africa. The landscape gradually fades to black night‚Äîevening from space -- Picture by Lightroom Photos / NASA