It was 40 years ago, in December 1968, that the three Apollo 8 astronauts became the first people from our planet to reach Moon orbit, and they brought home the famous photo of the beautiful blue Earth rising above the Moon´s horizon, surrounded by dark, vast, empty space. Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders sent back six live television transmissions during their flight, including the famous Christmas Eve Broadcast, when the three astronauts read from the biblical book of Genesis. This broadcast was heard by an estimated one billion people around the world. "Looking back on the Earth was the high point of the mission," Borman said recently, at an EAA event. "It was Christmas Eve, and we were a long way from home." About 239,000 miles away from home. For an excellent five-minute documentary about the event, featuring an interview with Lovell, check out this video from WGN-TV Chicago. Or click here for the full NASA audio recording of the astronauts reading on Christmas Eve. NASA is commemorating the anniversary with special programming on the NASA Television Public Channel, on Wednesday and Thursday this week; click here for info. The Apollo 8 astronauts recently spoke at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, and the archived webcast is available online. And they also were recently honored during an event at San Diego´s Air and Space Museum, and AVweb was there; click here for photos and a report from that event. The crew returned safely to Earth six days after their launch, having successfully set the stage for the first human lunar landing six months later.