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ASTRO BOB: New lunar craters named after iconic photo

This is arguably the most famous picture taken by Apollo 8. It became iconic and has been credited with starting the environmental movement. Two of the craters seen in this photo have just been named by the Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) of the International Astronomical Union. (Photo source: NASA)

The solar system's biggest planet and the one with by far the most interesting clouds will only be with us for a few more weeks. Earth's orbital movement around the sun makes Jupiter appear to move about a degree to the west each night.

Despite the put-down, Jupiter puts up a good fight, struggling to outpace the swifter Earth as it moves east in its orbit. Sorry, Charlie. By early November, the planet will be lost in the solar glare and reach conjunction with the sun on Nov. 26. It returns to the morning sky in late December in a wonderful, close conjunction with Mercury on the morning of the solstice.

While we're on the moon, so to speak, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) officially approved the naming of two lunar crater on Oct. 10 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission — Anders' Earthrise and 8 Homeward.

Anders' crater is 25 miles (40 km) wide and was previously called Pasteur "T," an outlier of the much larger Pasteur Crater. 8 Homeward is about 8 miles across (12.5 km) and originally called "Ganskiy M." It represents wishes for a safe journey home for the Apollo 8 crew. Both craters lie on the far side of the moon.

Appropriately, the newly named craters appear in the foreground of the famous "Earthrise" photograph taken by astronaut Bill Anders on Dec. 24, 1968. The image became iconic and has even been credited with starting the environmental movement. And why not? Look how lovely and habitable Earth is next to the barren lunar landscape. Anders summed up the photo and mission best: "We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth."

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