On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated. This date marks the birth of the modern environmental movement.

Today’s (April 22) story of what happened this day in Science, Technology, Astronomy, and Space Exploration history.

Earth Day

First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is an annual event celebrated every year on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

Earth Day now includes events in more than 193 countries, which are coordinated globally by EarthDay.org (formerly Earth Day Network).

Earth Day Network works year-round to solve climate change, end plastic pollution, protect endangered species, and broaden, educate, and activate the environmental movement across the globe.

A brief story of the first Earth Day

In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, the American peace activist John McConnell (March 22, 1915 – October 20, 2012) proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be observed on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere.

This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations.

A month later, United States Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed the idea to hold a nationwide environmental teach-in on April 22, 1970. He hired a young activist, Denis Hayes, to be the National Coordinator. Nelson and Hayes renamed the event “Earth Day”.

Denis and his staff grew the event beyond the original idea for a teach-in to include the entire United States. More than 20 million people poured out on the streets, and the first Earth Day remains the largest single-day protest in human history.

The first Earth day - The Blue Marble
Apollo 17 spacecraft took a photo of Earth from space, at a distance of about 45,000 kilometers (28,000 miles). This image, with the official NASA designation AS17-148-22727, became known as “The Blue Marble“, one of the most iconic photos of Earth from space. In fact, it was not the first clear image of Earth taken from space – similar photos had already been taken as early as 1967. But, the 1970s were the scene of a big surge in environmental activism. For example, on April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was organized by Gaylord Nelson, former senator of Wisconsin, and Denis Hayes, a Harvard graduate student. Millions of people gather in the United States for the event. So, in today’s terms, image AS17-148-22727 went “viral” and became a symbol of the environmental movement, as a depiction of Earth’s frailty, vulnerability, and isolation amid the vast expanse of space. According to NASA archivist Mike Gentry, it is among the most widely distributed images in human history.
Earthrise from Apollo 8. December 24, 2017
The first “earthrise” ever seen directly by humans. It is photographed by astronauts on board Apollo 8 on December 24, 1968. On December 24, 1968, the crew of Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon and the second manned spaceflight mission in the United States Apollo space program, took this photo, later dubbed “Earthrise”. During a broadcast that night, pilot Jim Lovell said: “The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.” This is a cropped image. You can see the full-size image on NASA.gov. AS08-14-2383 (24 Dec. 1968) – The rising Earth is about five degrees above the lunar horizon in this telephoto view taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft near 110 degrees east longitude. The horizon, about 570 kilometers (350 statute miles) from the spacecraft, is near the eastern limb of the moon as viewed from Earth. The width of the view at the horizon is about 150 kilometers (95 statute miles). On Earth 240,000 statute miles away the sunset terminator crosses Africa. The crew took the photo around 10:40 a.m. Houston time on the morning of December 24 and that would make it 15:40 GMT on the same day. The South Pole is in the white area near the left end of the terminator. North and South America are under the clouds. Camera Tilt Mode: High Oblique. Direction: West. Sun Angle: Near SSP Original Film Magazine was labeled B. Camera Data: 70mm Hasselblad. F-Stop: F-5.6;Shutter Speed 1/250; Lens: 250mm. Film Type: Kodak SO-368 Color ASA 64.

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M. Özgür Nevres
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