December 23, 2011

Earth, as Seen by Astronauts Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans and Harrison Schmidt from Apollo 17

The Apollo 17 mission, which took place December 7-19, 1972, was the last of the missions to the moon carried out in the late 1960s and early 1970s by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald B. Evans, and Harrison H. Schmitt undertook the mission, which lasted 12 days, 13 hours, and 52 minutes and included a lunar surface stay of 75 hours. The lunar landing site was the highlands and valley area of Taurus-Littrow (20º 16’ north latitude, 30º 77’ east longitude). The mission gathered 110.4 kilograms of lunar material and set up NASA’s sixth automated research station. This photograph shows the earth as it would have appeared to the astronauts on their journey home.

Mugan. Cotton

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) was a pioneer in the development of color photography. In the early 1900s, he formulated an ambitious plan to carry out a photographic survey of the Russian Empire. After gaining the support of Tsar Nicholas II, between 1909 and 1915 he completed surveys of 11 regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation. Prokudin-Gorskii’s caption mistakenly identifies this plant as cotton. In fact, the photograph shows a pomegranate, a fruit-bearing shrub that has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times. Originally from Persia, the pomegranate is used for juice and as an ingredient in various dishes. The hot and arid climate of the Mugan Steppe (present-day Azerbaijan), where this photograph was taken, is not suitable for most fruit trees, with the notable exception of the pomegranate.

Mugan. Settler's Family. Settlement of Grafovka

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) was a pioneer in the development of color photography. In the early 1900s, he formulated an ambitious plan to carry out a photographic survey of the Russian Empire. After gaining the support of Tsar Nicholas II, between 1909 and 1915 he completed surveys of 11 regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation. This photograph shows a family of Russian settlers in Grafovka, a small Russian settlement in the Mugan Steppe region, south of the Caucasus Mountains and west of the Caspian Sea (in present-day Azerbaijan). Official Russian government policy encouraged the settlement of Russians in the non-European parts of the Russian Empire, particularly in border regions.

Mugan. Settlement of Petropavlovskoe. A Street (Seventy-Seven Households)

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) was a pioneer in the development of color photography. In the early 1900s, he formulated an ambitious plan to carry out a photographic survey of the Russian Empire. After gaining the support of Tsar Nicholas II, between 1909 and 1915 he completed surveys of 11 regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation. This photograph shows Petropavlovskoe, the first Russian settlement in the Mugan region (in present-day Azerbaijan), which was founded in 1887 at the confluence of the Kura and Araks rivers. During its early years, the settlement was nearly destroyed by flooding from the Araks. Life was very difficult for the early settlers, who were not accustomed to the hot climate of the steppe and fell prey to many diseases.

Vitebsk. Part of the City with the Western Dvina

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) was a pioneer in the development of color photography. In the early 1900s, he formulated an ambitious plan to carry out a photographic survey of the Russian Empire. After gaining the support of Tsar Nicholas II, between 1909 and 1915 he completed surveys of 11 regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation. This photograph by Prokudin-Gorskii shows the city of Vitebsk, which is located in present-day Belarus near the border with Russia and Latvia. In the early 1900s, Vitebsk was a commercial and industrial center, connected by railroad to St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Kiev. Its population of 81,000 included Russians, Belarusians, Latvians, Poles, and Jews. The iron bridge with stone supports was constructed in 1863–67, and was the first permanent bridge across the Western Dvina River, which runs through the city. Portraits of Vitebsk and its people appear in many paintings by Marc Chagall, who was born there in 1887.

Vitebsk. General View of the Southern Part of the City

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many different parts of the empire.