The Road to the Moon Landings – Apollo 8 – Paris Match, 1969

Earthrise was featured across two full pages. “Pour les astronautes en orbite lunaire, la Terre se leve avec une majesté bouleversante (For the astronauts in lunar orbit, Earth rises with a staggering majesty)

In the upcoming two weeks, Iconic Photos would cover the NASA missions to the other space and the Moon as they appeared in leading picture magazines of the time: Life, Epoca, Paris-Match, Look, Sunday Times, etc.


Apollo 8 mission (December 21–27, 1968) was the first crewed spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit and the first human spaceflight to reach the Moon. The crew orbited the Moon ten times without landing.

On Christmas Eve, 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 read from the Book of Genesis while the Earth receded in the window and the largest-ever television audience looked on. Initially, the astronauts wanted to convey a simple message of peace, but thought it would be ill-suited with the United States involvement in the Vietnam War escalating. The reading was “an unprecedented marketing and public-relations triumph,” one pundit noted, despite a lawsuit against NASA filed by the atheist activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair.

Three Apollo astronauts—Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders—were the first humans to witness and photograph the far side of the Moon and an Earthrise. On December 24, 1968, Anders was taking the photos of the surface of the moon when he spoted the earth rising on the horizon. Before Anders found a suitable 70 mm color film, mission commander Frank Borman took a black-and-white photograph of the scene. The mission logs:

Anders: Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! There’s the Earth coming up. Wow, that’s pretty.
Borman: Hey, don’t take that, it’s not scheduled. (joking)
Anders: (laughs) You got a color film, Jim?
Hand me that roll of color quick, would you…
Lovell: Oh man, that’s great!

The crew also took first full-disk image of Earth from space taken by a person. These photos were included in Paris Match’s Issue 1027 (January 11, 1969), below, accompanying an article which discussed the upcoming lunar missions which will land on the surface of the Moon in five month’s time. On the cover was the earthrise photo framed by the spacecraft window with the caption: ‘Lever de Terre sur la Lune. En couleurs, les photos les plus bouleversantes jamais faites’ (Earth rising above the Moon. In color: the most staggering photos ever made).

The article was hastily added at the latest possible moment, and appeared right in the middle of the issue; in fact stapled onto the middle of an article about the introduction of plastics as a construction material for small boats.

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47 thoughts on “The Road to the Moon Landings – Apollo 8 – Paris Match, 1969

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