Today’s post is part of a collection of posts on the artistic side of science. Through both art and science, we humans try to make sense of the world around us, and the two fields have a lot more in common than you might expect.
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The International Astronomy Union has the sole power to name things in outer space, and they have a lot of rules and regulations for how the naming process works. This usually results in names like HD 856019b. But for Mercury, specifically the craters of Mercury, the I.A.U.’s process is actually kind of fun.
With only a few exceptions, the craters of Mercury are all named after famous authors, artists, or musicians. This means Mercury has a Shakespeare Crater, a Hemmingway Crater, a Van Gogh Crater, and a Beethoven Crater. For you Beetles fans out there, there’s a John Lennon Crater. Edgar Allen Poe has a crater. Mozart and Monet have craters. My personal favorite is, of course, Tolkien Crater.
It’s worth noting that Mercury has more craters than any other planet in the Solar System, and we keep discovering more of them. That means we need more artists and authors and musicians, and we need them fast before we run out of names. So like Neil Gaiman says, go out and make good art. Mercury is counting on you.
P.S.: Special shout out to Spacerguy, who mentioned this fun fact in a comment yesterday. Please check out his Star Trek themed blog by clicking here.