LM Eagle and Earthrise

Space Mission
Apollo 11, 16-24 July 1969

Michael Collins

Photo Description
Vintage Chromogenic silver print on fibre-based Kodak paper, 20.5 x 25.5 cm (10 x 8 in), [NASA photo no AS11-44-6642], with A KODAK PAPER watermark on verso

After 21 hours on the surface, the LM Eagle with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on board rose to join Michael Collins in the orbiting CSM Columbia.
As Eagle approached for docking, Collins witnessed the unique view of an Earthrise behind Eagle. He became the only person in history to capture a photograph showing every human being in the universe (including the two astronauts in Eagle) except himself.
“Little by little, they grew closer, steady, as if on rails, and I thought ‘What a beautiful sight,’ one that had to be recorded. As I reached for my Hasselblad, suddenly the Earth popped up over the horizon, directly behind Eagle. I could not have staged it any better, but the alignment was not of my doing, just a happy coincidence. I suspect a lot of good photography is like that, some serendipitous happenstance beyond the control of the photographer. But at any rate, as I clicked away, I realized that for the first time, in one frame, appeared three billion earthlings, two explorers, and one moon. The photographer, of course, was discreetly out of view.”
—Michael Collins

From the mission transcript when the photograph was taken:
127:51:29 Armstrong (LM Eagle):I’ll be looking into his left window when I pitch up.
127:51:32 Aldrin (LM Eagle):I don’t think so. If you did it right now you’d…
127:51:36 Collins (CSM Columbia):I got the Earth coming up already. It’s fantastic!
127:51:40 Public Affairs Officer (Mission Control):Have LM AOS (Acquisition of Signal).
127:51:42 Armstrong (LM Eagle):Okay. You’ve got me.
127:52:00 Evans (Mission Control):Eagle and Columbia, Houston. Standing by.
127:52:05 Armstrong (LM Eagle):Roger. We’re station-keeping.