Posted by: environmentspirituality | July 20, 2009

Earth from Space

Earthrise from Apollo 8

Earthrise from Apollo 8

Interesting, there is a nice synergy with today’s 40th anniversary of the Apollo II mission landing on the moon and the book that I am currently reading for my inquiry, A Reenchanted World by James William Gibson. Gibson remarks that the first pictures of Earth from space, in the late 1960s, had “immense power” (p. 93). The first vision of Earth as a pale blue dot, a singular whole where political boundaries were invisible and the vastness of our planet reduced to the tiny and fragile, had immense impact on the human psyche and galvanized the environmental movement.

As someone who was born after the lunar landing (as the majority of the world’s population is these days), and who grew up seeing images of Earth from space regularly, it is hard for me to fully understand the impact that this sight for the first time would have had. But I do know how humbling it is to think that all that surrounds me and that feels so vast – the Cascade mountains to my east, the Olympic mountain range to my west, and the Pacific Ocean spread out beyond them – is really such a tiny part of the whole planet.  And the planet is so tiny within the context of our solar system, our galaxy, our universe.

Therefore, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo II mission landing on the moon,  I’d like to share some quotes from astronauts who were transformed by their view of Earth from space.

And then it struck me that we are all children of the Earth. It does not matter what country you look at. We are all Earth’s children, and we should treat her as our Mother. Aleksandr Aleksandrov, USSR

The Earth was small, light blue, and so touchingly alone, our home that must be defended like a holy relic. Aleksei Leonov, USSR

As we got farther and farther away it diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful marble you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart. Seeing this has to change a man, has to make a man appreciate the creation of God and the love of God. James Irwin, USA

Suddenly, from behind the rim of the moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realize this is Earth … home…. My view of our planet was a glimpse of divinity…. There was suddenly a very deep gut feeling that something was different … a nonrational way of understanding…. I suddenly experienced the universe as intelligent, loving, harmonious. Edgar Mitchell, USA

(Astronaut quotes are from The Home Planet by Kevin W. Kelley. I found them reprinted in A Reenchanted World and on



  1. Nice choice. The first one is my favorite – how the perspective of distance from the Earth reveals such a simple truth about the mutual connection of all people (and things) of Earth.

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