As the space race accelerated during the 1960s, NASA's Apollo 8 mission set out to put American astronauts into lunar orbit. On Dec. 24, 1968, they did just that. Three lucky men became the first humans ever to orbit the moon ... and see the entirety of Earth from afar [source: Neuman].
As the spaceship rotated, they were able to take pictures of their home planet. One famous image, by astronaut William Anders, became known as "Earthrise." The photograph depicts Earth as a blue orb swirled with massive white clouds, hanging in the blackness of space over the cratered horizon of the moon [source: Chaikin].
Anders described it as "the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen" and noted that even though they were there to study the moon, "it's really the earth as seen from the moon that's the most interesting aspect of this flight" [source: Chaikin].
The picture immediately zoomed around the world and was published in countless papers. It also graced the cover of the Whole Earth Catalogue and formed the backdrop of the "CBS Evening News."