Wired's science blog tells us that "only two dozen people have seen our planet in its entirety from space" (most have been low orbit views where the entire planet isn't visible). The AP asked them all to describe that view for Earth Day.
The first full view of Earth was from Apollo 8 in 1968. Astronaut Bill Anders took the photos during that mission that ended up on posters and pins for the first Earth Day in 1970. Here are some quotes from the AP piece:
"It was the only color we could see in the universe. ... "We're living on a tiny little dust mote in left field on a rather insignificant galaxy. And basically this it for humans. It strikes me that it's a shame that we're squabbling over oil and borders." -Bill Anders, Apollo 8, whose photos of Earth became famous.
"You come back impressed, once you've been up there, with how thin our little atmosphere is that supports all life here on Earth. So if we foul it up, there's no coming back from something like that."
-John Glenn, first American to orbit the Earth (1962) and former U.S. senator.
"...From up there, it looks finite and it looks fragile and it really looks like just a tiny little place on which we live in a vast expanse of space. It gave me the feeling of really wanting us all to take care of the Earth. I got more of a sense of Earth as home, a place where we live. And of course you want to take care of your home. You want it clean. You want it safe."
-Winston Scott, two-time shuttle astronaut who wrote a book, "Reflections From Earth Orbit."
"You can see what a small little atmosphere is protecting us. You realize there's not much protecting this planet particularly when you see the view from the side. That's something I'd like to share with everybody so people would realize we need to protect it."
-Sunita Williams, who has been living on the international space station since Dec. 11, 2006.
There's been plenty going on for Earth Day in New York this weekend, check out some remaining events here, and take the ecological footprint quiz here. The quiz may inspire you to contact ConEd, who is offering Green and Wind Power as an alternative way to power your home. The NRDC also has twelve tips to keep yourself and earth healthy (PDF). And if you've got a car, maybe you want to consider running it off of vegetable oil!
Photo via Street Stars' flickr.