Two of the moon's craters get new names

Earthrise
Public Domain NASA/IAU

The official naming organization has approved the names to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission.

OK, so they may not be planets or a stars, not even comets or other lofty celestial objects – but even having a few lunar craters named in one's honor would be a pretty spectacular occurrence.

The Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has officially approved the names of two lunar craters to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8 and her historic voyage to our planet's favorite sidekick.

The names are ... drumroll please ... Anders’ Earthrise and 8 Homeward.

Earthrise namesNASA/IAU/Public Domain

The craters are actually pretty special. They can be seen in the iconic photo, Earthrise, taken by astronaut William Anders aboard Apollo 8.

As described by the AIU, "Since the Moon is tidally locked to the Earth -- it always has the same side facing the Earth -- the Earth will never appear to rise above the surface to someone standing on the lunar farside. Orbiting around the Moon, however, gave the Apollo 8 astronauts, Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders this stunning view, before they safely returned home to Earth."

The photo is often credited with inspiring the environmental movement – it was the first time we Earthlings got such a resplendent glimpse of our home from afar.

In including it in their 100 most influential images of all time, Time Magazine wrote of the shot:

The image is our first full-color view of our planet from off of it – helped to launch the environmental movement. And, just as important, it helped human beings recognize that in a cold and punishing cosmos, we’ve got it pretty good.

While Apollo 8 was the second crewed mission of the Apollo program, it was the first to bring humans to the moon. It took place December 21 to 27, 1968, completing 10 orbits around the moon and broadcasting its amazing views back to Earth during live television transmissions. In the 50 years since, life on planet Earth has changed dramatically – though things on the moon look to have remained gloriously much the same ... except for a few new names.

See more about Earthrise in the short documentary below.

You can read more about the iconic photo in Earthrise: The photo that launched a movement.

Two of the moon's craters get new names
The official naming organization has approved the names to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission.

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