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Orcas Island astronaut talks about historic Christmas broadcast from space

This photo released by NASA shows the Earth rising above the stark Moon, and was taken by Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders on the Apollo 8 mission. (AP Photo/NASA - Bill Anders)

A man who now lives on Orcas Island was once part of a giant Christmas moment in U.S. history.

Bill Anders was part of the Apollo 8 crew of astronauts who offered a Christmas greeting to earth while orbiting the moon. The astronauts chose to read from the Bible during the broadcast, which was the most watched televised broadcast at that time.

"We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you," Anders said, from Apollo 8, orbiting the moon. He continued:

"'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.'"

Anders tells KIRO Radio's Tom and Curley Show it was a friend of one of the astronaut's who'd recommended reading from the Book of Genesis during the special greeting. He says with a crew made up of engineers and test pilots, communication up there was mostly technical.

"If you follow the voice tapes through the Apollo 8 mission there wasn't much profundity, it was mostly technical jargon. So when asked one time on the way back who was controlling the space craft, I quipped Isaac Newton, that was probably my most profound statement."

Reading from the Book of Genesis they thought was something many people could relate to.

"We read from the Bible at least from my point of view not as a religious basis but just want to say some fundamental words, words that are accepted in many religions," says Anders.

At the conclusion of the broadcast, Borman concluded wishing the world a Merry Christmas.

"From the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas - and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth."

Astronauts make rare Christmas Eve spacewalk

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About the Author

Whether it's floating on Green Lake, eating shrimp tacos at Agua Verde, or taking weekend drives out to the Cascades, she loves to enjoy the Pacific Northwest lifestyle as much as humanly possible.


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