November 15, 2007 | David F. Coppedge

Photo: Earthrise 2007

The Japanese Kaguya spacecraft has taken a series of “Earthrise” photos from lunar orbit, including this sequence.  The complete set of new hi-resolution photos is available at Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency.  (Due to the orbital path of the spacecraft, Antarctica is at the top.)
    “Earth-rise is a phenomenon seen only from satellites that travel around the Moon, such as the KAGUYA and the Apollo space ship,” the caption explained.  “The Earth-rise cannot be observed by a person who is on the Moon as they can always see the Earth at the same position.”
    The first set of Earthrise images in December 1968 from Apollo 8 had a dramatic impact on the inhabitants of Spaceship Earth.  Borman, Lovell and Anders called it their Christmas present to the inhabitants of the “good Earth” as they celebrated by reading the opening verses from Genesis (see NASA article).  The recent movie In the Shadow of the Moon retold the story (see CNN).
    As an encore, ESA’s Rosetta Spacecraft zipped by Earth yesterday and took some stunning images of our planet from the night side.  Rosetta is on a long flight itinerary to land on a comet in 2014.  Viewers may want to compare these Blue Planet images with the latest from the Red Planet taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
    This time, perhaps, these new Earthrise images can be thought of as another holiday gift to Spaceship Earth: a symbolic cornucopia for Thanksgiving.

Who could not be thankful at the sight of such a perfect blue sphere out there, loaded with life and beauty?  The contrast with the lifeless and sterile moon makes the scene all the more thought-provoking.  What poetry or Scripture would come to mind as you look at these stunning images?  What deep questions about the universe, Earth, life, humanity, politics, ethics, meaning and destiny arise in your soul?  Take a moment to jot down your thoughts after a good, long gaze at this image.
    It’s sad to consider that if astronauts today, 39 years after Apollo 8, tried to read inspirational words from the Bible, they would be promptly sued by the ACLU, and roundly condemned by leading politicians, scientists and educators.  Your thoughts do not have to reflect their thoughts; they can be aligned with God’s thoughts.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are high above the earth, so our my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

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