John Lennon Shines On: IAU Names Mercury Crater After Rock Legend
December 20, 2013

John Lennon Shines On: IAU Names Mercury Crater After Rock Legend

Gerard LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940 in Liverpool, England. He started his first band, The Quarrymen, while still in high school. After Paul McCartney and George Harrison joined the band the name was changed to The Beatles. He and his band mates became rock legends, but John met a tragic end on December 8, 1980.

Now Lennon, along with nine other notable celebrities of the past, have been honored by having impact craters on Mercury named after them. The International Astronomical Union (IAU), which was founded in 1919, is the go-to group for planetary and satellite nomenclature and they have chosen Lennon as one of the names for the newly observed craters.

Honoring John Lennon with a crater name was suggested by Sean Solomon, NASA’s MESSENGER Principal Investigator.

“The MESSENGER team is delighted that the IAU has named an additional 10 impact craters on Mercury. We are particularly pleased that eight of the 10 individuals honored made all or many of their artistic contributions in the Twentieth Century, the same century in which the MESSENGER mission was conceived, proposed, and approved for flight. Imagine,” Solomon said in a statement.

The IAU established an identification theme for the craters of Mercury by naming them after “deceased artists, musicians, painters, and authors who have made outstanding or fundamental contributions to their field and have been recognized as art historically significant figures for more than 50 years.”

Naming craters may seem like a lot of fun among scientists and others involved in the process. However, David Blewett, a participating scientist on the MESSENGER mission, says there is also a more practical reason for why we name craters.

“After a while, identifying craters by their latitude and longitude becomes laborious,” Blewett said in a statement. “Assigning names to the craters makes it easier for scientists to communicate about them, share notes and observations.”

While John Lennon might be the most notable of the latest round of honorees, several others have been honored for their equally impressive backgrounds within their fields. These include American-French playwright Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972), French Romantic composer Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), American sculptor Alexander Calder (1898-1976), American author Truman Capote (1924-1984), Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921), Belgian painter and printmaker James Sidney Ensor (1860-1949), Dutch sculptor Jean Boulogne Giambologna (1529-1608), German author Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970) and Portuguese-French painter Vieira da Silva (1908-1992).

With the ten new craters labeled, there is now a total of 124 craters named since January 2008, when the MESSENGER spacecraft made its first flyby of planet Mercury.

[ Watch the video: MESSENGER Approaches Mercury ]