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Royal Society of Victoria, 8 LaTrobe Street, Melbourne

Presentations & Interdisciplinary Panel Discussion

What’s in a picture?

Almost 50 years ago on Christmas Eve, 1968, US astronaut William Anders took a photo aboard the Apollo 8 mission that became known as ‘Earthrise.’ This ground-breaking image transformed our view of our unique planet, and the place of our home in the cosmos.

Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to leave the Earth’s orbit and circle the Moon. When the craft piloted by William Anders and his fellow crewmen Frank Borman and Jim Lovell emerged from behind the Moon’s far side, they saw in front of them an astounding sight – an exquisite blue sphere hanging in the blackness of space.

Taking this photograph was one of the most profound events in the history of human culture, for at this moment we truly saw ourselves from a distance for the first time; and the Earth in its surrounding, dark emptiness not only seemed infinitely beautiful, but also extraordinarily fragile. This wonderful image crystallised and cemented the sense of our planet’s isolation and vulnerability. It is linked to the start of the environmental movement and to many significant concepts developed and popularised over the last 50 years such as Spaceship Earth, Limits to Growth, Small is Beautiful, Sustainability and Gaia. It is a significant signpost for our ongoing struggle to safeguard the vitality and viability of our living planet.

With Dr Colleen Boyle, Artist and Art Historian with RMIT's School of Design, Dr Jenny Gray, CEO of Zoos Victoria and the President of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Professor Rachel Webster, Head of Astrophysics at the University of Melbourne's School of Physics and Dr Lynette Bettio, Senior Climatologist with the Bureau of Meteorology.


Earlier Event: October 6