5 NASA photos that changed the world
Ethan Siegel

To David: I can understand where you are coming from. After all, the Earth is about 367% larger than the Moon. So the Earth should fill the lunar sky, right? But there are a few things you are forgetting. First, the “Earth rise” photo was taken from Apollo 8 as it orbited the Moon. So naturally the Moon will appear much larger in the foreground (bottom of picture) than what you are used to seeing it from here on Earth. Second, the Earth does not fill the lunar sky because of the distance between the Earth and Moon. At the Moon’s closest distance to Earth, the space between the Earth and Moon is approximately 226,000 miles (363,712 km). And at its furthest distance, that space increases to approximately 253,000 miles (407,164 km). At those distances, the Earth will not fill the lunar sky. Additionally, airplanes and satellites circling the Earth are too small to be seen with the naked eye from the Moon. One would need a powerful telescope to see them. Oh, and you are correct, the sun is behind the camera. That is why the Earth has that strange “glow.” Its surface is reflecting sunlight back into space, just like the Moon.