In 1968, Apollo 8 went to the moon. They didn't land but they did circle the moon and, as was shown on television, at a certain point one of the astronauts casually said that they're gonna turn the camera around and show us the Earth. And he did... and that was the first time Frank White, the author of "The Overview Effect", had ever seen the planet hanging in space like that... and it was profound. For the philosopher David Loy, like for other people, it was quite a shock.
Any of us didn't have any expectations about how it would give us such a different perspective. The focus had been that we were going to the stars and planets and suddenly we looked back at ourselves and it seems to imply a new kind of self awareness. One of the astronauts said:
When we originally went on the moon our total focus was on the moon, we weren't thinking about looking back at the Earth, but now that we've done it, that may well have been the most important reason we went.
The launch alone is overwhelming experience but when the engines cut off you start floating out of the seat. You float over to the window, look down and that's the moment you realize that you're in space. You start out with the idea of what is going to be like and finally when you look at the Earth for the first time you're overwhelmed by how much more beautiful it really is when you see it for real.
It's this dynamic, alive place that you see glowing all the time. It is truly incredible to be up there and glance back to our planet and see that tremendous view. When you're looking down at the Earth you see that line that separates day into night slowly moving across the planet and then watching Earth come alive when you see the lights from the cities and the towns.