About 45 years after Anders snapped his one-of-a-kind “Earthrise” photograph — showing us our marble-like planet rising from behind the moon — a man named Benjamin Grant would see an unexpected sight as well.
On December 14, 2013, Grant was preparing a talk about satellites for the space club he set up at his workplace. He went on a mapping program and searched for some images. On a whim, he typed in “Earth,” hoping to find a picture of the entire planet. But unlike the Apollo 8 crew, Grant’s one-man mission led him not to Earth, but to Earth, Texas.
“What I saw when I clicked ‘Enter’ was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen,” Grant said, adding that his screen filled up with a bunch of circles. “I am huge fan of abstract art and art history and I had never seen anything like that before. But it was beautiful and it was stunning and I had no idea what I was seeing.”
Turns out, those circular hues of green and brown were rows of rotating sprinklers used for a type of agricultural farming known as pivot irrigation.
“I soon enough became obsessed with looking for these new patterns, these new stories to tell using this perspective,” Grant said.
Grant’s upcoming book, “Overview: A New Perspective of Earth,” contains more than 200 satellite images, showing us that within the blues and greens and whites of the Earth exists a kaleidoscope of colors and places.
“Overview” stems from the “Overview Effect,” a term coined by science writer Frank White. It refers to the sort of shift in perspective that various astronauts and cosmonauts have said they experienced during spaceflight, such as when they view Earth while in orbit.
“That idea was very much on my mind and very inspirational for me, which really is the reason I typed in ‘Earth’ into the search bar in the first place,” Grant said. “That idea of inspiring this new perspective or showing people the planet in a way they’ve never seen before has been at the core of the project from the very beginning, and is really what I hope to inspire with the book and with the work that I’m doing.”
Grant uses satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe, and every creation in “Overview” has been stitched together using various tiles of satellite imagery. One of the major considerations when deciding what to create has to do with aesthetic appeal.