EU hosts ‘Astronaut Photographs’

Category:  The Arts
Friday, October 25th, 2019 at 11:08 AM
EU hosts ‘Astronaut Photographs’ by Hazel Modlin
This is a picture of Earth, titled 'Blue Marble,' that among other photos was shown at the event. | Photo: Apollo 17 Crew

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon. This giant leap for mankind recently celebrated its 50th anniversary this past summer.

This anniversary holds a deeper meaning to Dr. Joseph Reese, a professor from the geosciences department at Edinboro. Reese turned 5 years old on that day and it left a lasting impression on the young child, along with being part of what inspired him to go into the geosciences.

In honor of Earth Science Week and this passion, he hosted an event called “Astronaut Photographs” on Oct. 16.

The event showcased a multitude of different photos that astronauts have taken over the years, as well as focusing on a relatively new term called the “overview effect.”

The average person has never left Earth, so photographs that astronauts have taken are the only way most people are able to catch a glimpse of what our planet looks like from space.

Reese explained that astronauts often go through a profound psychological change after being in space for the first time. Bill Anders, one of the members of the Apollo 8 crew, managed to describe this mental shift in an interview when he said, “We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing we discovered was the Earth.”

The experience led Anders, along with others who have journeyed into space, to gain a new respect for Earth.

This phenomenon is the “overview effect” as described by Reese. When astronauts view the Earth from such a distance, they are blown away by the beauty and awe of what they see. From space, he explained, national boundaries are not visible, and the differences that divide humans seem less important; they see the planet as a whole.

Ironically, astronauts’ separation from the planet reveals an interconnectivity between everything on Earth, and this gives them a strong desire to protect the Earth, as it seems fragile to them in the dark vacuum of space, explained Reese.

While we cannot go into space and see this view for ourselves, Reese mentioned that a milder form of the overview effect can be experienced through looking at photos from space, more specifically ones of the Earth. Because so few people are chosen to go into space, he mentioned that, “it became the responsibility of the astronauts to take photos.” He showed many of these pictures, such as “Earthrise” by Bill Anderson and “Blue Marble” by the Apollo 17 crew.

Other than to remind us of our duty to preserve our planet, these photos were shown for another effect: documenting chronological changes of Earth over time. Pictures from space can capture volcanic eruptions, deltas, hurricanes and more. They can also give us a visual of expansion rates of cities, explained Reese.

Those who are interested in learning more, seeing the pictures, and possibly experiencing some of the overview effect can visit:

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