Apollo 11 was already about 98,500 nautical miles (182,500 km) from Earth when the crew witnessed this “out of this world” (according to Buzz Aldrin) view of their Home Planet floating in the dark void of space.
This superb photograph taken through the 250mm telephoto lens was cropped by NASA photo editors so that the Earth appears bigger in the image. It has been widely reproduced as one of the most famous Earth photographs taken during the Apollo program and extensively used by the environmental movement.
“There is but one Earth, tiny and fragile, and one must be 100,000 miles away from it to fully appreciate one’s good fortune in living in it. If I could use only one word to describe the Earth as seen from the Moon, I would ignore both its size and color and search for a more elemental quality, that of fragility. The Earth appears ‘fragile,’ above all else. I don’t know why but it does.”
—Michael Collins (from his 1974 book Carrying the Fire)
From the mission transcript as the astronauts were gazing at the Earth
(photograph taken at T+023:30:00 after launch):
023:22:00 Public Affairs Officer (Mission Control):
This is Apollo Control at 23 hours, 22 minutes. Apollo 11's distance from Earth is 99,308 nautical miles [183,918 km]. Velocity, 5,411 feet per second [1,649 m/s]. The spacecraft weight, 96,361 pounds [43,709 kg].
Public Affairs Officer (Mission Control):
A flight dynamics officer reports that, in terms of distance, Apollo 11 will reach the half-way mark at 25 hours, 0 minutes, 53 seconds. At that time the spacecraft will be 104,350 [nautical] miles [193,256 km] from both the Earth and the Moon. [...]
It’s really a fantastic sight through that sextant. A minute ago, during that Auto maneuver, the reticle swept across the Mediterranean. You could see all of North Africa, absolutely clear; all of Portugal, Spain, southern France; all of Italy, absolutely clear. Just a beautiful sight.
024:45:54 McCandless (Mission Control):
Roger. We all envy you the view up there. [...]
I’m looking through the monocular now, and I guess to coin an expression, the view is just out of this world.