Click PLAY VIDEO to watch a NASA visualization of the first Earthrise
MOON, Earth - On Christmas Eve 1968, human eyes first saw the Earth rise over the moon.
"Oh my God, look at that picture over there!" William Anders says as the Earth starts to rise over the moon's horizon. "There's the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty!"
"You got a color film, Jim?" Anders asks James Lovell. "Hand me a roll of color, quick, would you?"
The crew of Apollo 8 blasted off December 21 on a mission to orbit the moon and return to Earth.
The astronauts became the first humans to leave our home planet and travel to another body in space.
But as crew members Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders all later recalled, the most important thing they discovered was Earth.
In honor of the 45th anniversary of the first "Earthrise," NASA compiled a new animation that captures the look and feel of orbiting the moon as the Earth rises on the horizon.
The visualization draws on numerous historical sources, including the actual cloud pattern on Earth from the ESSA-7 satellite and dozens of photographs taken by Apollo 8, NASA said.
The video also reveals new, historically significant information about the Earthrise photographs. It has not been widely known, for example, that the spacecraft was rolling when the photos were taken, and that it was this roll that brought the Earth into view.
The visualization establishes the precise timing of the roll and, for the first time ever, identifies which window each photograph was taken from.
The key to the new work is a set of vertical stereo photographs taken by a camera mounted in the Command Module's rendezvous window and pointing straight down onto the lunar surface. It automatically photographed the surface every 20 seconds. By registering each photograph to a model of the terrain based on LRO data, the orientation of the spacecraft can be precisely determined.