"Earthrise" tells the remarkable story of the first photographs of Earth from space and the totally unexpected impact of those images. The Apollo "Earthrise" and "Blue Marble" photographs were beamed across the world some forty years ago. They had an astounding effect, Robert Poole explains, and in fact transformed thinking about the Earth and its environment in a way that echoed throughout religion, culture, and science. Gazing upon our whole planet for the first time, we saw ourselves and our place in the universe with new clarity.Poole delves into new areas of research and looks at familiar history from fresh perspectives. With intriguing anecdotes and wonderful pictures, he examines afresh the politics of the Apollo missions, the challenges of whole Earth photography, and the story of the behind-the-scenes struggles to get photographs of the Earth put into mission plans. He traces the history of imagined visions of Earth from space and explores what happened when imagination met reality. The photographs of Earth represented a turning point, Poole contends. In their wake, Earth Day was inaugurated, the environmental movement took off, and the first space age ended. People turned their focus back toward Earth, toward the precious and fragile planet we call home.
I'm a historian and writer, based in Greater Manchester and Lancaster, and currently Guild Research Fellow at Uclan.
At present I'm working on what the late great E. P. Thompson called 'the heroic age of popular radicalism' in north-west England, whose climax was the 1819 Peterloo massacre. It was one of the first genuinely popular pro-democracy movements, at a time when the idea of bringing large masses of people to press peacefully but forcefully for change was - well, revolutionary. I've written severe articles, for which see my academia site
I've just finished editing 'Peterloo Revisited', an illustrated volume of essays, pictures and sources, which will be available soon as the 2013 volume of the Manchester Region History Review at:
My most successful book is 'Earthrise: How Man First Saw the Earth'. Having lived through the Apollo programme as a child I came back to it with a historian's perspective. Did the first view of Earth from the Moon really take the astronauts by surprise? Did those first pictures of the whole Earth really cause the environmental movement to take off? Has seeing our home planet changed our understanding of Earth and heaven? I wanted to find out, so one summer I headed for the United States and the Apollo archives at mission control, Houston. 'Earthrise' is the result. Everyone knows the Earth it has led to a lot of invitations to write, speak and broadcast. See the website:
for colour pictures and more material.
My last book tackled England's biggest peacetime witch trial - in 1612, when ten supposed witches from the forest of Pendle were hanged at Lancaster assizes. I produced a modernised account of the original book of the trial, 'The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster', with an introduction summarising events as they unfolded. 1612 was the 400th anniversary of the trial so I had a busy year supporting the anniversary programme and speaking to crowded meeting halls - interest was high. The most shocking point for modern audiences is that the evidence of two manipulated child witnesses sent several people, including their own mother, to their deaths. So it's appropriate that Lancaster is home to a charity, Stepping Stones Nigeria, that helps present-day children accused of witchcraft - please consider supporting it.