December 25, 2015

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A Newly Named Crater

Originally published February 16, 2005


Image Credit: Paul Spudis and LPI

A Newly Named Crater

The Moon is full of names of people who contributed nothing to lunar science, so it is refreshing that the most recently named lunar crater honors one of the post-Apollo era scientists who devoted his life to the Moon. Graham Ryder was a pugnacious, sarcastic, witty and passionate lunar petrologist who died much too young in 2002. Graham made many important contributions to understanding the evolution of the Moon and its rocks – the sort of work that can’t be readily imaged for LPOD – and was both liked and respected by everyone in the lunar community, even those who disagreed with his theories. The crater Ryder is about 17 km in diameter at 44.5 S, 143.2 E. on the lunar farside. Like Graham, the crater is very bright and will be a beacon for future exploration. I hope Graham’s name is just the first of a new era of lunar nomenclature commemorating the magnificent breakthroughs of the dedicated lunar scientists of the last few decades. Of the dead, I would recommend Don Gault, Alika Herring, N. Kozyrev, Hal Mazursky and numerous others. Among the living there are many more lunar scientists whose names also should be added to the Moon, but not to soon, because you have to be three years dead to be considered! I hope that the IAU lunar nomenclature committee of the near future, which gets to make these decisions, is more knowledgeable of lunar science and cartography than was the committee which made so many disastrous decisions in the 1970s. This last statement is the sort of incendiary, but true, comment that Graham would make, except he would have worked in the word “twit” and used great wit!

Chuck Wood

Technical Details:
Moon map from the Clementine Atlas of the Moon by Bussey and Spudis, and photo from the Lunar & Planetary Institute, Houston. Thanks also to Clive Neal.

Related Links:
Graham Ryder
LPI Laments the Passing of Graham Ryder

Yesterday's LPOD: Astro-Heart

Tomorrow's LPOD: Keeping Up With The Smythiis

Author & Editor:
Charles A. Wood



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