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'Earthrise' updated, 45 years after Apollo 8

Image: Earthrise re-created
Apollo 8's famous "Earthrise" image of 1968 has been re-created by blending high-resolution lunar imagery from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Earth's surface as depicted in NASA's Blue Marble data set, and cloud imagery captured on Dec. 24, 1968, by the Environmental Science Services Administration 7 satellite.Ernie Wright / NASA

Forty-five years after humanity's first journey around another celestial body, researchers have re-created Apollo 8's precise course to produce a high-resolution re-creation of "Earthrise," one of history's most famous images from space.

A team of experts — including John Keller, project scientist for NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter; NASA producer/visualizer Ernie Wright; and space historian Andrew Chaikin — used images of the moon from Apollo 8 and LRO to determine where the Apollo spacecraft was pointed at what time. Their findings are laid out in a video that reconstructs the chain of events that occurred in lunar orbit on Dec. 24, 1968.

To add to the occasion, NASA re-created the "Earthrise" picture — incorporating modern-day lunar imagery from LRO, Earth imagery from NASA's Blue Marble data set, and the cloud patterns documented by the Environmental Science Services Administration 7 satellite on that history-making day. (Use the Flash-based slider-bar gizmo on NASA's Web page to compare the original with the re-creation.)

The Earthrise re-creation is well-timed — not only to mark the anniversary, but to mesh with our Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which has been celebrating imagery of Earth from space on a daily basis during December.

This year's edition will close out on Christmas Day with an up-to-date view of our beautiful blue planet. In the meantime, check in with The Atlantic's Hubble Advent CalendarZooniverse's Advent calendar and the Galileo's Pendulum Science Advent Calendar.

Alan Boyle is's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the NBC News Science Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.