October 24th, 1946: The First Time Earthlings saw Earth from Space

As science and technology perpetually shoot forward at the speed of light, there are a lot of things we take for granted today, which would’ve been totally bizarre to past generations. For example, isn’t it weird that telephone calls used to involve using a human operator, instead of calling people directly? Isn’t it odd that “computer” was once a job description?

Or how about this: before human beings ever had the ridiculously ambitious idea of jumping on a rocket and going into the stars, what did they think the Earth looked like?

Seriously, stop and think about this for a moment. Today, popular culture is so inundated with images of our little blue globe that it’s odd to remember that, once upon a time, people had no idea what it looked like from the outside. Sure, everyone knew it was round—ancient Greek mathematicians figured that out thousand of years ago, according to the Independent—but for the majority of human history, it was like every one of us was locked into one house, totally unaware what color the outside paint might be.

Humankind is nothing if not ambitious, so naturally, lots of people tried to figure out what our little globe looked like from space, with varying results. The U.S. Library of Congress shared some of these old images back in 2013, and you have to give those artists an A+ for effort. For example, check out this image of the Earth and the Moon, as seen from Mars, drawn by Marcianus Filomeno Rossi in 1920:

Marcianus Filomeno Rossi

Not bad, right?

Anyhow all that speculation came to an end on this date in history, October 24th, in the year of  1946. According to Vice, it’s now been over 70 years since this pivotal day, where a rocket launched from the U.S. southwest shot into the sky and snagged Earth’s very first selfie:

first photo of earth from space october 24 1946

Sure, there have been a lot of better photos since then. But there’s something magical about looking at this picture, and realizing that it was the first time we ever got to see ourselves.

Meanwhile, if you’re into spacey coincidences: the date of October 24 also marked the death of astronomer Tycho Brahe in 1601, and legendary Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry passed away on October 24th, 1991.