On December 12th 1977 during the first EVA of Apollo 17, Eugene Cernan photographed Harrison Schmitt with the American flag and the Earth (400,000km away) in the background. The chest-mounted RCU and the camera bracket are clearly visible. Cernan is visible in the reflection in Schmitt’s helmet visor in the awkward position he assumed to obtain this image.

As an American myself, I do get a sense of pride from this image but at the same time can’t help but think about how silly the flag seems so far away. You can barely make out the continents from this vantage point let alone individual nations. Missions like Apollo 17 transcended borders and spoke to the world as a whole. As Carl Sagan put it, “Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.”