William Anders, astronaut who took the famous 'Earthrise' photo, dies at age 90

William A. Anders, the astronaut behind perhaps the most iconic photo of our planet, has died at the age of 90.

On Friday morning, Anders piloted a small plane that dove into the water near Roche Harbor, Washington. His son Greg confirmed his death.

Anders retired from the Air Force Reserve as a major general, but was a major at the time of the Apollo 8 mission in 1968. Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to orbit the moon, making Anders also one of the first humans was who departed the limits of the Earth's orbit.

On Christmas Eve, all three Apollo crew members took photographs of the Earth as it rose over the moon's horizon, but Anders was the only one photographing on color film. The ships built-in tape recorder captured the astronaut exclaiming, “Oh my God, look at that picture there! That's where the earth comes up. Wow, that is so beautiful!”

The resulting photograph, titled 'Earthrise', captured the loneliness and fragility of the Earth in a way no image had ever seen before. It was especially iconic for the emerging environmental movement – ​​fifty years later, Earth Day Network President Kathleen Rogers wrote that photo “affirmed” the movement's belief “that the Earth's environment was common to us all, that the Earth's natural resources were finite, and that 150 years of unfettered industrial development had a profound impact on our planet.”

In an interview During his 2015 research, Anders noted that his photo seemed better remembered than the Apollo 8 mission itself.

“Here we came all the way to the moon to discover the Earth,” he said.

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