May 11, 2004

Jump to: navigation, search

Who Named That Crater?


Image Credit: C.A. Wood on Elger's Map

Who Named That Crater?

Lunar nomenclature, which is in some ways the least important aspect of the Moon, has a fascinating history. It doesn't really matter what a feature is named as long as everyone uses the same name for it. But names of historically interesting people are more interesting than other possible designations - I'd rather talk about Copernicus than 23136B which is that wonderful crater's catalog number in The System of Lunar Craters! In this map I have color-coded the sources for names on one small piece of the Moon. Most of the large and conspicuous craters were named by the earliest Moon mapper whose names took hold. Thus the blue craters have names given by Riccioli in 1651. Only one name from the earlier Moon mapper Hevelius (1647, pink) remains - Cape Agarum. Schroter (1791 and 1802) named features that are smaller or nearer the limb (red), and in 1834 Madler completed naming most of the well-defined craters (green). Mopping up of smaller craters continued by Neison (1876; yellow) and Birt (1880s, grey). Since this base map was published by Elger in 1895, additional names were given by Franz, Lamech, Arthur, Whitaker and NASA. And one named crater on this map has been deleted because it doesn't really exist - can you find it?

Technical Details:
The background map is part of the First Quadrant from Elger's The Moon (1895). I found the source for each name in Ewen Whitaker's Mapping and Naming the Moon (1999).

Related Links:
International Astronomical Union Nomenclature List
Hevelius' Nomenclature

Yesterday's LPOD: Galileo's Colorful Moon

Tomorrow's LPOD: A Basin Near Schiller

Author & Editor:
Charles A. Wood



Register, Log in, and join in the comments.