New lunar crater names honor Apollo 8

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the first mission to send men around the Moon.
By | Published: December 13, 2018 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
The two newly named lunar craters are visible on Bill Anders’ iconic Earthrise photo.
Fifty years ago this month, Apollo 8 sent men to circle the Moon for the first time. During that groundbreaking mission, astronauts photographed not only the surface of the Moon, but also planet Earth from their unique vantage point. The mission’s success paved the way for the Apollo program to proceed, setting the stage for the lunar landing in July 1969.

On October 5 of this year, the Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union — the body responsible for officially naming planetary features in our solar system — approved two new lunar crater names: 8 Homeward and Anders’ Earthrise. The craters honor the Apollo 8 mission; they are visible in the famous Earthrise photograph taken during the mission by astronaut Bill Anders, for which one of them is named. Earthrise became one of the most iconic photos associated with the Apollo program, and was also instrumental in the founding of the environmental movement.

A top-down view of the lunar surface with the craters circled.
Apollo 8 launched December 21, 1968, and circled the Moon 10 times on Christmas Eve before returning to Earth December 27. Anders served as the mission’s Lunar Module Pilot, though the craft did not actually include a Lunar Module; additional crew members were Frank Borman (Commander) and Jim Lovell (Command Module Pilot).

Get the story of Apollo 8 in Jim Lovell’s own words:
50 years later: The historic flight of Apollo 8