Our SpaceFlight Heritage: Two craters named in honor of Apollo 8
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has named two lunar craters to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission. The craters, visible in the iconic “Earthrise” photo, were given the names: “Anders’ Earthrise” and “8 Homeward.”
IAU’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) approved the new names on Friday, October 5. WGPSN is the organization responsible for the naming of planetary features in the Solar System.
These two craters can be seen in the foreground of the “Earthrise” photograph taken by Apollo 8 astronaut William “Bill” Anders on December 24, 1968. The image is considered to be the most famous that was acquired during the Apollo 8 mission. It shows Earth emerging from behind the lunar surface. Anders took the photo using a 70-millimeter color film camera.
“This is arguably the most famous picture taken by Apollo 8. It became iconic and has been credited with starting the environmental movement,” IAU said in a press release.
“Anders’ Earthrise” is the new name for a crater that was formerly known as “Pasteur T.” The feature is about 24.95 miles (40.15 kilometers) in diameter and is clearly visible in the bottom left corner of the “Earthrise” image.
“8 Homeward” meanwhile is a crater approximately 7.78 miles (12.52 kilometers) wide which previously known as “Ganskiy M” (“Hansky M”). According to IAU, it symbolizes the safe return to Earth of Apollo 8.
IAU added that the new names for the two crates were based in part on the references in two books: “Earthrise: How Man First Saw the Earth”, by Robert Poole (Yale University Press, 2010) and “Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon”, by Jeffrey Kluger (Henry Holt and Company, 2017).
Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to leave low-Earth orbit (LEO), orbit the Moon and return safely to Earth. The mission lasted from December 21 to December 27 during which the Apollo CSM-103 spacecraft completed 10 orbits around the Moon. Anders served as the Lunar Module Pilot. The mission’s Commander was Frank Borman and its Command Module Pilot James Lovell.
Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.