To look down on the earth from space is absolutely incredible. I knew ahead of time just exactly what I was going to see. I was intellectually prepared, but I was not prepared emotionally for what I saw. The world is very large. I knew that. But to see this huge, magnificent sphere slowly rotating beneath me was overwhelming. I have no ability to describe what it was really like, and no photographic emulsion can even start to do it justice. The visibility, of course, was excellent. But I was amazed at the intensity of the colors. I estimated that there were twenty shades of intense blue as the earth’s atmosphere changes from the gray of the curved horizon into the incredible black void of space. And when you look at an archipelago of islands, there are hundreds of shades of blue and green and yellow tan that are just beyond description.
The first time I had a minute to stop and just look at the earth, the absolute beauty of the scene brought tears to my eyes. In weightlessness tears do not just quietly roll down your cheeks. They stay in front of your eyeballs and get bigger and bigger and in a few moments you feel like a guppy looking up through the surface of the aquarium.
Now, try to imagine what it was like for me to have that scene in front of me and then have the fragments of half a dozen scriptures pop into my mind. “The heavens declare the glory of God.” (Ps. 19:1.) If you have seen the heavens, you have “seen God moving in his majesty and power.” (D&C 88:47.) I am sure you can imagine the closeness I felt to my Father in Heaven as I looked down at one of His beautiful creations. I was really stirred by an increased awareness of what He did for us as the Creator of our earth. That was one of the most moving experiences of my life.
Excerpt from former Astronaut Don Lind’s October 1985 General Conference address, The Heavens Declare the Glory of God. Don Lind is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. View Elder Robert D. Hale’s full address here.