Apollo 8: NASA's First Crewed Trip Around the Moon in Pictures

Earth, Western Hemisphere


Stunning views of much of the Western Hemisphere reveal the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, Newfoundland, Tierra del Fuego in South America. Central America is clearly visible. Most of South America is under cloud cover, except the Andes Mountains and a bit of West Africa peaks through.

In Orbit


While completing an intravehicular activity during the Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission, Astronaut Frank Borman, mission commander, extends his arm. The image is a still taken from film recorded by an onboard 16mm motion picture camera.

Recording History


Lunar Module Pilot William A. Anders completes an intravehicular activity during the Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission. The photo came from an onboard 16mm motion picture camera film.

Hard at Work


During the Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission, astronaut James A. Lovell, Jr., Apollo 8 command module pilot, works at the Apollo 8 Spacecraft Command Module's Guidance and Navigation station. The picture originated from a 16mm motion picture camera onboard the Apollo 8.

The Moon


From aboard the Apollo 8 spacecraft while the craft was completing its second orbit around the moon, a television camera captured the surface of the moon from roughly 60 miles away. This image was part of Apollo 8's third live television transmission back to Earth on December 24, 1968.

Lunar Beauty


During the Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission from December 21-26, 1968, this image of a nearly full moon was captured. The Apollo 8 spacecraft capture the photo from a point above 70 degrees east longitude. Several features of the moon are clearly visible in this image, although the actual surface of the moon likely has less distinct colorization than displayed in this image.

Beginning at the left side of the image the terminator can be seen crossing the southern highlands and Mare Tranquillitatis, an irregular maira. Mare Nectaris, the round mare, is also by the terminator. Near the center of the photo the crater Langrenus sits at the easter edge of Mare Fecunditatis, another irregular maira. Mare Crisium, the dark circular area close to the center of the moon is also visible.

The right side of the image is comprised of mostly lunar farside properties. Several large craters, including crater Tsiolkovsky at the lower right, are clear. Two of these craters have noticeable bright rays extending from them.

Earth Rising


Looking west-southwest across the moon's surface, Earth rises over the horizon as the Apollo 8 spacecraft orbits the moon.

The Earthrise photos from Apollo 8 have become iconic images of space exploration.

Crater Tsiolkovsky


The Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission captured stunning images of the moon during its December 1968 journey. The 150-kilometer wide Tsiolkovsky crater takes center stage in this photo.

Rugged Terrain


The farside of the moon is known for its rough and pitted landscape. Just above center on the left side of the image the large crater measures at almost 70 miles (110 kilometers) across while the distinctly circular crater in the foreground is around 9 miles (15 kilometers) in diameter. In the image, noticeable grooves running from the lower right to the upper left likely indicate another major crater nearby.

Zero-Phase Bright Spot


Nearly vertical illumination by the sun washed out any topographical detail in this image of the lunar surface by the Apollo 8 spacecraft while surface brightness is accented. Several small bright-halo craters become clear and some of the larger craters' walls glow brightly with dark streaks. The spacecraft created a bright halo near the prominent bright-walled crater near the center of the image.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the Space.com team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with Space.com, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.