‘Earthrise’ photographer who called Northwest home on his famous picture

Jun 8, 2024, 7:54 AM | Updated: 8:17 am


This Dec. 24, 1968, file photo made available by NASA shows the Earth behind the surface of the moon during the Apollo 8 mission. (William Anders/NASA via AP, File)

(William Anders/NASA via AP, File)

It has been over 55 years since Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders took a photograph of a distant earth not quite looming over the lunar landscape, an image that has since been come to be known as “Earthrise.”

In 2018, Anders, who lived in Anacortes, had been featured in national and international media that marked the 50th anniversary of that famous mission and memorable photograph from December 1968.

Anders dies at 90: Apollo 8 astronaut killed in plane crash off San Juan Islands

Apollo 8, whose mission was to orbit and map the moon in advance of the July 1969 Apollo 11 landing, included astronauts Jim Lovell, Frank Borman, and Anders. The three men appeared in a live broadcast on Christmas Eve, and read Bible passages from Genesis.

Anders was a guest on the Tom & Curley Show a few days before Christmas 2013, talking about Apollo 8 on the 45th anniversary. John Curley and guest host Feliks Banel spoke with the former astronaut about what it was like being that far from home, and how it feels to have been the guy who pressed the button on what’s become one of the most famous photographs in human history.

“On our fourth orbit, we had the space craft changing its position and for the first time, we were able to see the beautiful home planet Earth come up over the stark lunar horizon,” Anders said during that 2013 KIRO Newsradio interview. “I grabbed a camera with a long lens and started clicking away and that became the famous ‘Earthrise’ picture.”

When Banel asked Anders how he felt when he saw Earth from that far away while on Apollo 8 for the first time, Anders began his answer with a simple comparison between Earth and the moon.

‘Well, it certainly was clear that the Earth was a lot prettier than the moon,” Anders said.

Contributing: Feliks Banel, KIRO Newsradio; Steve Coogan, MyNorthwest

Editors’ note: This piece was originally published Dec. 21, 2018. It has been updated and republished multiple times since then.

You can hear Feliks Banel every Wednesday and Friday morning on Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien. Read more from Feliks here and subscribe to The Resident Historian Podcast here. If you have a story idea or a question about Northwest history, please email Feliks. You can also follow Feliks on X.

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‘Earthrise’ photographer who called Northwest home on his famous picture