October 11, 2009
Give Truth a Chance
LO IV-86 image of the bright simple crater Daniell D and the Daniell Rille/Fault from LPI Lunar Orbiter Photo Gallery
News stories around the world are reporting that a lunar crater has been named the John Lennon Peace Crater. It is true that a company that "sells" lunar (and martian and other extraterrestrial) real estate has issued a press release stating that it has renamed Daniell D after Lennon. The company has a very official sounding name - International Lunar Geographic Society - implying that it is a scholarly, perhaps official organization that can name craters. And it can, just as the International Star Registry will name a star after a loved one (for a fee), but the name has no legitimacy. The John Lennon Peace Crater is a completely unofficial name; only the International Astronomical Union can officially name craters (and lunar ones are named for scientists and philosophers - Mercury is for musicians and artists). Unfortunately, nowadays news organizations rarely seem to check the authenticity of material they publish, and so they present press releases as real news. When the public learns that no crater has been renamed Lennon, instead of blaming the business for tricking them, they will probably complain about stuffy scientists who fail to appreciate true genius.
The International Lunar Geographic Society (great name!) has sold lunar lots as the Lunar Republic Society or Lunar Registry. It has also recently renamed craters for Walter Cronkite and Michael Jackson. Maybe you should consider renaming a crater as a birthday or anniversary present - you have as much authority as the International Lunar Geographic Society!
I do appreciate John Lennon - I dedicated a scientific paper to his memory just after he died.
Rükl plate 14
Yesterday's LPOD: Not LCROSS
Tomorrow's LPOD: Tilted Craters