The International Astronomical Union selected for features on Pluto’s moon Charon these 12 names out of a pool of selections that included characters from Lord of the Rings and Marvel comics.
By Dan Garisto, 7:00am, April 20, 2018:
Celebrity names now mark places on Pluto’s moon Charon
Somewhere on the distant moon is a mountain with Stanley Kubrick’s name on it
Pluto’s largest moon, long seen as mysterious smudge at the outer reaches of our solar system, was revealed in 2015 closeup images to be pocked with craters, mountains and steep-sided depressions called chasmas. Now, 12 of those topographical features have names.
Charon’s six most prominent craters were named for fictional explorers, including Dorothy who visited the fantastical land of Oz, time traveler Revati from the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata, and Nemo for the captain of the ship Nautilus in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
Three chasmas received nautically themed names — Argo for the Greek ship sailed by Jason to retrieve the Golden Fleece, Caleuche for the mythological ghost ship said to travel off the Chilean coast, and Manjet for one of Egyptian sun god Ra’s vessels. The names for Charon’s mountains honor three real-life luminaries: film director Stanley Kubrick and science fiction writers Octavia E. Butler and Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
Before the International Astronomical Union announced the names April 11, scientists referred to Charon’s features with nicknames like “brown mountain” or “yellow mountain,” says Rita Schulz, a planetary scientist who heads the union’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature. In contrast, the new names have an appeal that “engages [the] public in science”, she says. And that, she adds, “is quite good.”
First global maps of Pluto and Charon show the worlds’ highs and lows. Made with New Horizons’ data, the charts reveal never-before-seen details. By Lisa Grossman, 4:50pm, July 13, 2018.
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