Sunday, October 7, 2018

'Anders’ Earthrise' and '8 Homeward': IAU Names Two Lunar Craters in Honor of Apollo 8

The "Earthrise" color photograph taken by astronaut William "Bill" Anders. Two of the crates seen in this photo have just been named by the Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Image Credit: NASA/IAU

International Astronomical Union (IAU) has named two craters on the Moon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission. The craters, visible in the iconic “Earthrise” photo, were given 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 official authority responsible for the naming of planetary features in the Solar System.

The 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 most famous image acquired during Apollo 8 mission, depicts Earth emerging behind and parts 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 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” is a crater approximately 7.78 miles (12.52 kilometers) wide, 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, 1968, during which the Apollo CSM-103 spacecraft completed 10 orbits around the Moon. Besides Anders who was the Lunar Module Pilot, the crew comprised of Commander Frank Borman and Command Module Pilot James Lovell.

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