May 23, 2006

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Silly Names

image from LPOD Photo Gallery

Looking like stamps on an album page are the 20 named lacuses (lacii?) on the Moon. Images of all of these lunar lakes are now collected together in the LPOD Photo Gallery. Nearly all are shown by two Clementine images - a standard black and white one and a false color depiction that distinguishes soil composition. Paolo Amoroso has heroically captured the Clementine images for them (and also all maria, palii, catena and sinii!) so that probably for the first time all are easy to examine. Only two lacii were named by classical authors (Mortis and Somniorum), the rest came in an explosion of naming from 1970 to 1979. There does seem to have been an excess of nomenclatural exuberance on the backside of the Apenines where six mare-filled low spots are named. And in giving so many new names it became necessary to find Latin words to represent states of mind. Some names are pleasant sounding (Lacus Bonitatis - lake of Goodness), but others are odd (Lacus Oblivionis - Lake of Forgetfulness) or downright laughable (Lacus Perseverantiae - Lake of Perseverance). Grudgingly, I accept that even though many lacii are small, observers probably benefit from having them named. And someday when we are serious about the lunar farside someone will probably give more names to the dark lakes near Apollo and other low spots within the South Pole-Aitken basin.

Chuck Wood

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Yesterday's LPOD: Domes, Domes Everywhere

Tomorrow's LPOD: Euclides Region


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