Was the video/photos taken during the earth-rise on the Apollo 8 flight the first "blue marble"-esque photo? I've heard the image equated to the "earth's first selfie" and question the technical accuracy of that premise.


*Note to pedants:

Seeing other similar type questions on the site, please understand the concept of what I'm asking, if not the accuracy. Yes, you can only take, at best, a photo of only half the earth at a given time, and yes, during Apollo 8 the Earth was partially in shadow....

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    $\begingroup$ those people are "pedants" ;) $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Nov 29, 2018 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ damn autocorrect!! @Hobbes $\endgroup$
    – NKCampbell
    Nov 29, 2018 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ Hmmm, pedantic? That doesn't seem like the best fit. Perhaps donnish is better. $\endgroup$ Nov 29, 2018 at 18:32
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    $\begingroup$ Russel's answer is excellent, but it still is customary to wait 24 hours before clicking the accept checkmark, so other people (no, not me) have a chance to post answers. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Nov 29, 2018 at 21:40
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    $\begingroup$ as an aside - I love questions like this - they always result in lots of interesting and pretty images. $\endgroup$
    – Baldrickk
    Nov 30, 2018 at 9:41

2 Answers 2


No; the first full views of Earth from high-altitude satellites predate Apollo 8 by at least two years.

This web page has a nice progression of pictures of Earth from space from 1959 on.

A Soviet satellite (possibly Molniya-1-3) took this crude picture on May 30, 1966:

enter image description here

DODGE took this picture in September of 1967; this is believed to be the first full-color, full-Earth picture:

enter image description here

ATS-III sent this photo in November of 1967, which famously became the cover image for the first edition of the Whole Earth Catalog (Apollo 8's much prettier Earthrise photo adorned later editions):

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ The Whole Earth Catalog invented the internet before Al Gore did i.sstatic.net/30aHe.jpg This was a great book for certain "sitting rooms". $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Nov 29, 2018 at 23:52
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    $\begingroup$ What part of Earth is depicted in the first photo? I have a hard time identifying any continents or oceans on it. $\endgroup$
    – d-b
    Nov 30, 2018 at 0:03
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    $\begingroup$ @d-b Most likely the contrast is mostly cloud versus surface, not land versus water (squint at the other pictures to see what I mean). Assuming it’s in a Molniya orbit and near apogee, I’d expect it to be over the middle of greater Russia, but I don’t know which way the image is oriented. $\endgroup$ Nov 30, 2018 at 0:07
  • $\begingroup$ fyi I've just asked What are damper booms and how did they "get out of DODGE"? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Nov 30, 2018 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ That first one looks more like a distorted screaming face than it does the Earth... $\endgroup$
    – jpmc26
    Dec 1, 2018 at 1:29

Although not a blue marble as it's in black and white, Lunar Orbiter 1 took an earlier Earthrise photo on August 23, 1966. This is the first picture of the Earth from Lunar orbit.

Lunar Orbiter 1 picture of the Earth from the Moon, taken Aug. 23, 1966

In 2008, the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project produced a higher-quality version of this image by reanalyzing the original data.

Lunar Orbiter 1 picture of the Earth from the Moon, taken Aug. 23, 1966, restored by LOIRP

Lunar Orbiter 1 also took a second Earthrise picture on Aug. 25, 1966 (restored version shown.)

Lunar Orbiter 1 picture of the Earth from the Moon, taken Aug. 25, 1966, restored by LOIRP

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you so much for this. This is the first time I heard of LOIRP and the restored images quite literally made me shudder and get goosebumps... it is amazing to see the high-res images and to realise that Nancy Evans's decision rescued this treasure of data. This for me ranks with the Prokudin-Gorsky image bank. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Nov 30, 2018 at 14:50

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