Earth and Space: Photographs From the Archives of NASA Book Review

by DerdriuMarriner

Earth and Space offers an introduction and text by Nirmala Nataraj, photographs from the archives of NASA, and a preface by Bill Nye the “Science Guy.”

Earth and Space acquaints us with bow shocks

Earth and Space addresses worldwide interest in pictorial works that showcase astronomical photography of the Blue Marble and outer space by annotating twentieth and twenty-first century photographs from the archives of NASA. It begins with a preface by Bill Nye, chief executive officer of the Planetary Society founded by astrophysicist Carl Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996). It continues with three introductory pages and 79 pages of captioned explanations for 111 photographs by cosmology, ecology, and microbiology writer and science editor Nirmala Nataraj.

The curated collection draws upon decades of photographs taken by astronauts and by space-based observatories for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s image and information-rich archives. It ends with bibliography and image credits.

iconic "Earthrise" photograph taken by William "Bill" Anders, Apollo 8's lunar module pilot, on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968

view of rising Earth from 484 miles (778.92 kilometers) above the Moon's surface
view of rising Earth from 484 miles (778.92 kilometers) above the Moon's surface

Earth and Space brings us dark matter rings


The curated collection furnishes images from every decade, excepting the 1950s, since NASA’s funding in 1958, the year after the Earth-orbiting, Soviet Union-launched object Sputnik (“Companion”). It gives the automatic Command Module apogee camera’s 70-millimeter-filmed photograph of Earth from the unmanned Apollo 4 mission test-launching Saturn V on Tuesday, November 9, 1967. It has the iconic “Earthrise” of Tuesday, December 24, 1968, by astronaut William Anders from Apollo 8’s spacecraft 484 miles (778.92 kilometers) above the lunar surface. It includes the first photo taken of Earth in its entirety, the iconic Blue Marble image from the Apollo 17 mission on Thursday, December 7, 1972.

Koichi Wakata’s crescent moon joins as an International Space Station Expedition 28-tweeted photograph. 


"Crescent moon rising from the Earth atmosphere": image of rising crescent moon and cusp of Earth's atmosphere tweeted on February 1, 2014, by Koichi Wakata, JAXA (Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency) astronaut ~

Visibility of distinct colors: dominant gases and particles in each atmospheric layer act as prisms to filter out certain colors of light.
International Space Station's Expedition 38, November 10, 2013 to March 10, 2014
International Space Station's Expedition 38, November 10, 2013 to March 10, 2014

Earth and Space concerns us with light echoes


The pictorial work keeps to an observation-friendly organization by sequencing photographs along astronomical progressions from the solar system, through the Milky Way galaxy, into deep space. It leaves space shuttle Discovery-photographed, lower and upper atmospheric aerosol gas-caused Asian brown cloud pollution for Jupiter’s Europa and Io, Mercury, Neptune’s Triton, Saturn, and Venus.

The Chandra X-ray Observatory, Herschel Space Observatory, Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes, and Wide-held Infrared Survey Explorer make possible photographic journeys inside and outside the galaxy.

Hubble needs 97-minute orbits 353 miles (568.09 kilometers) above Earth at 5-mile-per-second (8.05-kilometer-per-second) speeds for its main 7.9-foot-diameter (2.41-meter-diameter) mirror to realize near-infrared, ultraviolet, visible image-capturing. En route, it operates near-infrared, survey and wide-field cameras, sensors, spectrographs, and spectrometer. 


the image that mesmerized the world: "The Blue Marble" of Earth, imaged by Apollo 17 crew on December 7, 1972

NASA's Apollo 17 mission
NASA's Apollo 17 mission

Earth and Space describes galactic and interstellar space


Earth and Space presents Earth’s neighbors, beginning with the constellations Cassiopeia and Cepheus and ending with the galaxy cluster MACS 10717 5.4 billion light years away. It quantifies the mechanics of space with dark energy, as 70 percent of universal mass; dark matter, as 25 percent; and visible matter, as 5 percent. It reveals Cepheid variables for calculating extra-galactic distances; hypernovas for exploding bigger, longer, louder than supernovas; and star bubbles for the Milky Way Project’s citizen scientists. It shows a universe whose cloud complexes, galactic and globular clusters, local groups, molecular clouds, planetary nebulas, and star systems become as familiar as our Earth.

Earth and Space takes readers on culturally enriching, educationally entertaining, geo-historically enthralling journeys. 


Earth and Space: Photographs from the Archives of NASA by Nirmala Nataraj; preface by Bill Nye ("Science Guy") ~ Available now via Amazon ~ Ranked No. 71 in Amazon's Astrophysics & Space Science Books

An extraordinary tour of the universe via NASA's exceptional archives!
NASA's Earth and space photographs



My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


photogenic Earth captured as crescent on November 9, 1967, during unmanned Apollo 4 mission:

Earth from an altitude of 11184.681 miles (18,000 kilometers), taken by an automatic camera aboard Apollo 4. Antarctica appears at the top of crescent, with Africa's northwestern coast visible at bottom.
Apollo 4 still photography: Photo ID: AS04-01-410
Apollo 4 still photography: Photo ID: AS04-01-410

Sources Consulted


Nataraj, Nirmala. 2015. Earth and Space: Photographs from the Archives of NASA. Preface by Bill Nye. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books LLC. 


"The Blue Marble" on February 8, 2002: detailed true-color image of the entire Earth; seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer (.386 square mile) ~

Apollo 17's iconic image, taken on December 7, 1972, continues to inspires updated versions that photogenically convey a wealth of information for NASA scientists.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Image by Reto Stöckli; enhancements by Robert Simmon
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Image by Reto Stöckli; enhancements by Robert Simmon
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Gas Pillars In the Eagle Nebula by NASA ~ Available via AllPosters as Photographic Print and also as Premium Photographic Print

iconic NASA image, known as "Pillars of Creation," captured on April 1, 1995, by Hubble Space Telescope: elephant trunks (interstellar dust and gas) in Eagle Nebula, about 7000 light years from Earth.
Gas Pillars In the Eagle Nebula

Orion 09798 StarBlast 4.5 Equatorial Reflector Telescope, Metallic Green ~ Available now via Amazon ~ Amazon ranking = No. 6 in in Camera & Photo > Reflectors

This compact, performance-packed telescope won't take viewers as far as NASA's Hubble Space Telescope but it still offers enjoyable, spectacular viewing opportunities!

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 11/13/2021, DerdriuMarriner
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DerdriuMarriner on 05/07/2021

Writer/Artist, Thank you for coming over for a visit and for sharing your love of the night sky.
It's possible that ancients had far better vision than we generally have nowadays. They kept amazing records of what they saw with the unaided eye. Technology makes us competitive nevertheless and knowledgeable through very pretty images.

WriterArtist on 05/07/2021

Dear DerdriuMarriner,
I love the night sky. It is exciting and beautiful. I believe the universe is extremely alluring and fascinating. Nasa has some of these snapshots caught and archived, however, there is still a hidden, immense stretch of sky that is unfathomable. You have successfully brought in some segments of the cosmos in beautiful chosen photographs.

DerdriuMarriner on 08/22/2017

kimbesa, Thank you! This book is one of my favorites. I regularly pull it off the shelf to look at it since the photos sequence the sights successively through the solar system and the Milky Way into deep space.

kimbesa on 08/20/2017

Wonderful pictures of earth in space. Awesome is the right word fo these!

DerdriuMarriner on 03/17/2016

blackspanielgallery, Yes, NASA has great images. It's the beauty, the information and the organization that makes me proud to have this book. It's organized from nearest to furthest from us so it's like a road view trip!

blackspanielgallery on 03/15/2016

Nasa has many great images, and some or online.

DerdriuMarriner on 02/03/2016

sandyspider, Me too, I find NASA and space super-interesting! The NASA site is one of my favorites to visit ;-D.

DerdriuMarriner on 02/03/2016

Mira, The James Webb Space Telescope is set to be launched in October 2018. NASA scientists are hoping that the two telescopes will be able to work together at least until 2020. Hubble somewhat can be repaired since the telescope orbits the Earth whereas the Webb will not be serviceable, by present technology, since it will orbit the Sun.

sandyspider on 01/22/2016

I find everything about space and NASA interesting. Good review.

Mira on 01/22/2016

Beautiful! I heard on TV that the battery on the Hubble Telescope will run out soon, and they plan to replace the Hubble with a much more powerful telescope.

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