The Apollo 8 Christmas Eve Broadcast
a passage from the Book of Genesis
In December 1968, as the world was embroiled in the tumultuous events of the era, an extraordinary and heartwarming moment unfolded high above the Earth.
On Christmas Eve, the Apollo 8 spacecraft, with astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders aboard, was in the midst of a historic mission. They were the first humans to journey to the Moon, and as they orbited the lunar surface, they shared a message of unity, hope, and the true spirit of Christmas with the entire world.
In the vast expanse of space, far beyond the Earth's atmosphere, the Apollo 8 spacecraft hurtled through the darkness. It was December 24, 1968, and three astronauts—Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders were on a historic journey. They were the first humans to travel to the Moon.
Inside the spacecraft, the astronauts were well aware of the significance of their mission. While they did not land on the lunar surface, their mission was a crucial step in NASA's preparations for the Apollo 11 mission, during which astronauts would land on the Moon for the first time in July 1969.
They had orbited the Moon multiple times, capturing breathtaking photographs of the lunar surface. But as they looked out of the window, they couldn't help but feel a profound sense of isolation. They were farther from home than any humans had ever been.
As Christmas Eve descended upon them, the astronauts found themselves enveloped in the eternal darkness of space. Homesick and longing for the comfort of Earth, they decided to share a message with the world. They had brought with them a small tape recorder, and they took turns reading from the Book of Genesis in the Bible. The familiar words of creation echoed through the spacecraft's cabin, reminding them of the wonder and beauty of the universe.
Then, as they peered out of their spacecraft's window, they witnessed a sight that left them awestruck. The Earthrise—an image of the Earth rising over the lunar horizon filled their view. It was a stunning vision of their home planet, a fragile blue-and-white orb floating in the vastness of space.
Frank Borman, the mission commander, reached for his camera and captured the iconic photograph known as "Earthrise." It would become one of the most iconic and moving images in the history of space exploration.
Moved by the beauty of the Earth and the message of hope in their reading, the astronauts decided to broadcast their message to the world. With millions of people back on Earth listening in, they shared their thoughts and feelings about the experience of being in space, the unity of humanity, and the spirit of Christmas.
Frank Borman's words echoed across the airwaves: "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: 'In the beginning, God created the heaven and the Earth... And God saw that it was good.'" (see video)
As they concluded their broadcast, they wished everyone on Earth a Merry Christmas and closed with the words, "Good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth."
The broadcast touched the hearts of millions and became a symbol of hope and unity during a turbulent time in history. It reminded people that, despite their differences, they shared a common home in the vastness of the universe and the beauty and interconnectedness of our planet.