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View Full Version : When (and by whom) places are named



Pthom
01-13-2010, 04:38 AM
I ran across a problem the other day, by making what seemed to be a simple assumption. I put my character in "what would one day be known as Shackleton Crater." (It is a crater on the Moon of some interest in that its rim encircles the Moon's south pole and because it's in perpetual shadow, may contain water ice. However interesting that is, it is unimportant to my story.) That wouldn't be much of a problem, except that I have him there at a certain date (between 1961 and 1969). It occured to me that the crater may have received its name prior to 1961.

So I went to look it up.

I typed in my query in myriad ways (in several search engines), followed link after link, (until they started referencing themselves). I found all sorts of references to Shackleton (the explorer) and to Shackleton Crater (named for the explorer), but absolutely nothing at all about when the crater was so named, nor who did it. Believe me, I am really tired of Google and Bing.

Any clue to how I might find out what I seek is much appreciated.

Fenika
01-13-2010, 04:42 AM
Call Mr. Shackleton?

:)

backslashbaby
01-13-2010, 05:01 AM
I'd try on an astronomy forum or similar. You'll find someone who is a Moon nut, I'm sure :)

TheIT
01-13-2010, 05:09 AM
Is there some sort of registration of names for places on the Moon? Maybe the NASA website?

Judg
01-13-2010, 05:22 AM
Is there any way to ask NASA questions directly? Maybe there's an input form on their website.

StephanieFox
01-13-2010, 05:24 AM
Often the person who first discovers the place gets to name it. It sounds like with this one, the discoverer had already had a chance to name something after him(herself), her parents, spouse, kids and dog and then started naming things after people (s)he admired. Just a guess.

In case you don't know who Shackleton is, he's a hero with an interesting story
http://www.south-pole.com/p0000097.htm

Sarpedon
01-13-2010, 06:51 AM
I recall reading about how technology progresses, we are able to discover smaller and smaller features on planets and other bodies in the solar system. Naturally, they tend to get named after prominent people of about the time they are discovered. This of course leads to smaller and smaller features being named after people who are famous later in history.

Puma
01-13-2010, 06:52 AM
Try looking it up as Shackleton (without the 's). From the couple articles I saw, it looks like it might have been discovered (and named) about 1999. Apparently it is common to name places for explorers - even if they weren't involved in the discovery. Puma

BillPatt
01-13-2010, 08:21 AM
Is there some sort of registration of names for places on the Moon? Maybe the NASA website?

From Wikipedia:

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is a collection of professional astronomers, at the Ph.D. (http://www.absolutewrite.com/wiki/Ph.D.) level and beyond, active in professional research and education in astronomy (http://www.absolutewrite.com/wiki/Astronomy).[1] (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/#cite_note-0) Headquartered in Paris, France, it acts as the internationally recognized authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies (http://www.absolutewrite.com/wiki/Celestial_bodies) (stars (http://www.absolutewrite.com/wiki/Star), planets (http://www.absolutewrite.com/wiki/Planet), asteroids (http://www.absolutewrite.com/wiki/Asteroid), etc.) and any surface features on them,

I'm too tired to search within the IAU, but maybe they will respond to emails about your question.

Pthom
01-13-2010, 10:59 AM
Call Mr. Shackleton?Know a medium? Ernest Shackleton, the British explorer for whom the crater in question is named, died in 1922.



Try looking it up as Shackleton (without the 's). From the couple articles I saw, it looks like it might have been discovered (and named) about 1999. Apparently it is common to name places for explorers - even if they weren't involved in the discovery. PumaDo you have a link to these articles? As I mentioned, I looked at around 30 articles and didn't see that. Admitedly, I was looking pretty rapidly. Maybe I missed it.


I'm too tired to search within the IAU, but maybe they will respond to emails about your question.Good idea, Bill. But like you, I'm too tired to look there too--at the moment, anyway. (The thought of trying to suss out all that French is daunting. NASA is bad enough.)

If that 1999 date (mentioned by Puma above) is right, then I'm good. I really don't need to know who did the naming, although that would be, I think, interesting. I just need to know when the naming happened. It seems odd to me that sort of information isn't readily available. We know who named America (Martin Waldseemüller (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Waldseem%C3%BCller)), after whom (the explorer Amerigo Vespucci) and approximately when (on a map he drew in 1507). We know who named the Columbia River (Capt. Robert Gray), for whom (his ship the Columbia Rediviva), and exactly when (May 18, 1792--he kept good records).[The references here are taken directly from Wikipedia.]

So if the information as to who suggested the name of Shackleton Crater (or for that matter ANY other Lunar feature--the same problem exists for all of them, apparently), who gets credit for it, and when is something the IAU keeps track of, why isn't it as readily available? Hell, if I had named a crater for my cat, I would want everyone to know. Yes, that'd be all of you here in AW, too. heh heh heh

Thanks to you all for weighing in. I won't give up, just yet.

ETA: See? Perserverance pays off. Bill, you were right. The information (albeit sketchy) is indeed in the IAU site. The method of digging it out is just not very intuitive. But I wrestled it out, sweat, tears and all. Doesn't say who proposed the name, but it does reveal that the name was approved in 1994.

Thanks again to all.