In the final days of 1968, photos from the flight of Apollo 8 were released revealing what soon would become the iconic image of The Blue Planet. But not yet as the new year began. Time magazine, in an issue with the cover date of January 3, 1969, anointed the Apollo 8 crew as the “Men of the Year,” a last minute switch from their original selection of “The Protester.” Photos from the flight had yet to be released. It was Life magazine the next week that featured The Blue Planet on the cover, and in a twelve-page spread of Apollo 8 photos.
The Blue Planet does not appear as a factor in the selection of the “Men of the Year,” beyond a fuzzy recognition that the flight “cannot fail to illuminate life on Planet Earth.” An essay in the issue proclaimed that the flight demonstrated “this is what Westernized man can do.” We don’t talk that way anymore. Time called the Moon “a new world,” with echoes of Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492. We don’t talk that way before
The essay stated, “Yet as man has conquered the seas, the air and other natural obstacles, he has at each stage, in a small way, conquered part of himself. Therein lies the hope and ultimate promise of his latest conquest.” Man as conqueror of nature — we don’t talk that way anymore.
And perhaps that is the true legacy of the view from Apollo 8 : We don’t think that way anymore.