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  Naming moon craters for late Apollo astronauts

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Author Topic:   Naming moon craters for late Apollo astronauts
Blackarrow
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posted 07-13-2012 11:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Am I alone in thinking that there is a huge case for naming three substantial nearside craters on the Moon Conrad, Irwin and Shepard? As all suitable craters have already been named, this would involve changing some existing names.

I have nothing against Mr. Lansberg or Mr. Reinhold (although I am unaware of their contributions to astronomy or space research, and I can find no entry for either in my 1987 "Astronomy Encyclopaedia.") I suggest that Pete Conrad's contribution speaks for itself and the I.A.U. would be justified in changing either Lansberg or Reinhold to "Conrad." (Both craters are fairly close to the Apollo 12 landing site). If change is good, let's have more.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-13-2012 12:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
...although I am unaware of their contributions to astronomy or space research
From Wikipedia:
Johan Philip Lansberge (25 August 1561 – 8 December 1632) was a Dutch astronomer. He is best known as the author of a set of astronomical tables, Tabulae motuum coelestium, for predicting planetary positions.

Erasmus Reinhold (October 22, 1511 – February 19, 1553) was a German astronomer and mathematician, considered to be the most influential astronomical pedagogue of his generation. Reinhold catalogued a large number of stars.

mjanovec
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posted 07-13-2012 12:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would be against changing the names of any craters that are already named after people who made important contributions to human history and science.

Surely there are other ways to honor the Apollo astronauts than to strip those honors from others who have earned them.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-13-2012 03:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, I think you miss my point. Anyone can look up Lansberg(e) or Reinhold on Google, but how many people, even in the space community, have ever heard of them? How could there be any greater entitlement to recognition (in the context of naming lunar craters) than actually exploring the Moon in person?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-13-2012 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You've just illustrated though, why having craters named after Lansberge and Reinhold is important: otherwise, why would anyone (other than those studying the history of astronomy), take the time to look up who they were?

The craters insure their contributions are remembered, if only by the occasional person asking "Why is that crater named that?"

I'm not opposed to honoring the moonwalkers, but not at the expense of those who came before them.

Cozmosis22
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posted 07-13-2012 04:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Noble gesture there Geoffrey, but am afraid that the astronomical community would never "allow" it to happen.

How about we name the first few manned permanent lunar outposts after those early explorers? Okay now, let's get busy making it happen.

David C
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posted 07-13-2012 05:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
Surely there are other ways to honor the Apollo astronauts than to strip those honors from others who have earned them.
Says it all really. There will be plenty of ships, bases, etc. in need of good names in the future.

p51
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posted 07-13-2012 06:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
Anyone can look up Lansberg(e) or Reinhold on Google, but how many people, even in the space community, have ever heard of them?
By your logic, anything named after any moonwalker other than Armstrong is fair game to be re-named for more current people, because outside of history or space fans, who in the public can name any other moon walker?

moorouge
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posted 07-14-2012 01:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Aren't there unnamed craters on the reverse side of the Moon?

I seem to recall that in a perverse sort of way some of the craters are named for lunar astronauts. They named them after their wives.

Dave Clow
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posted 07-14-2012 11:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dave Clow   Click Here to Email Dave Clow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There's a sizable formation called Apollo on the far side at 30S and 150W. In and around it are small craters named for several Apollo astronauts from Apollo 1 and Apollo 8, and by now (my map is old) it's possible more of them have been honored with a crater. On the near side, three small craters around Tranquility Base are named for the 11 crew. I remember hearing that Ewen Whitaker and Farouk El-Baz were engaged in some effort with the IAU to name craters after astronauts but I don't know where it stands.

(As an aside, several features on Mars are named after fallen American astronauts from Apollo and the Shuttle.)

The Soviets were aggressive in designating far side features based on the blurry photos taken by Luna 3 (hence Tsiolkovsky, etc.) Americans have always ended to be relatively modest in naming features, which I always took as admirable modesty in line with our getting there "in peace for all mankind." We didn't name features Mount Washington or the Lincoln Rille, and as I recall none of the base names reflect any attempt to propagandize. For me, that says a great deal about the US.

I have to add, I doubt any of the astronauts would agree to renaming a crater on their behalf, or that any of the families would suggest it. The ones that are named for astronauts are all small ones that I'd guess were unnamed before, or else were named as part of the complex--Messier G, Langrenus H, etc.; so no one's name was taken off.

I would favor naming the one Al Shepard made after him--that first swing took quite a divot, if Ed Mitchell's commentary was accurate.

The footprints do the talking best, I'd say.

Dave Clow
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posted 07-14-2012 11:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dave Clow   Click Here to Email Dave Clow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
They named them after their wives.
Jim Lovell named "Mount Marilyn" during Apollo 8. It's east of Tranquility Base in the vicinity of crater Secchi. I'm doubtful it was ever formalized by the IAU but it's still gospel at NASA.

David C
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posted 07-14-2012 06:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Whilst I respect the good work of the IAU, I've always wondered why NASA bows to them. The Russians and the Americans physically got there first - and produced the maps. Would Captain Cook have deferred to the ancient Greeks on what to name some of the places he visited.

As an aside, the same thing applies to the FAI and official "space flights" and aeronautical records. It's a sporting organisation, but why take their word on what qualifies as a spaceflight?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-14-2012 06:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The IAU and FAI are respected for basically the same reason there is an international system of units and three organizations to oversee their adherence.

Without a common "measuring stick" by which to reference, it would be difficult to undertake any international scientific endeavors. If there wasn't a unifying agreement on standards, then records, titles and names would carry little meaning.

Dave Clow
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posted 07-15-2012 12:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dave Clow   Click Here to Email Dave Clow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by David C:
The Russians and the Americans physically got there first - and produced the maps.
At least half of the moon has undergone a mapping and naming effort for centuries, preceding anything done by the US or the Soviets (preceding the US and the USSR, for that matter). The maps that were used by both nations comprised the names of features that has been there for many years.

Had the Greeks created such a precedent map for Cook, he'd have used it, and used the names as well.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-15-2012 01:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Okay, I started this, so I have a few observations to make.

First, one of the craters referred to is Lansberg (no "e"). (See NASA's "The Moon as Viewed by Lunar Orbiter." Don't believe everything on Wikipedia!)

Second, Dave Clow makes my point for me by mentioning the three small craters named Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins. They are dwarfed by craters visible on my lunar globe in the vicinity of Tranquillity Base: Arago, Manners, Ritter, Sabine, etc. No offense to those gentlemen, but in 50 years, will those names really deserve to overshadow the men who flew the first moon landing mission?

Third, Mark refers to "stripping honours from those who have earned them." Robert says: "I'm not opposed to honouring the moonwalkers but not at the expense of those who came before them." So why do we refer to Tasmania rather than Van Dieman's Land? What did Van Dieman do to deserve having his name deleted from the record?

How many buildings, roads and other locations have been renamed after John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan or Nelson Mandela without much apparent objection on behalf of earlier worthies whose names were over-written? (I acknowledge the local objections to the renaming of Cape Canaveral as Cape Kennedy).

I stand by my point that the three deceased moonwalkers deserve recognition by renaming appropriately large craters in their honour. As I type this I recognise that we should not exclude the CMPs. Nine Apollo lunar missions, 24 pioneers. There should be 24 suitable craters.

David C
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posted 07-15-2012 02:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Without a common "measuring stick" by which to reference, it would be difficult to undertake any international scientific endeavors.
I see what you're saying, but I don't think that I'd put "records" in the same category as scientific measurements and standards. Sure an overseeing body is useful but why can't it be joint USA-USSR, the nations with the actual experience? By all means add others as they qualify. My gripe here is really with the FAI not the IAU.
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Clow:
Had the Greeks created such a precedent map for Cook, he'd have used it, and used the names as well.
I have to concede that, and deny that we're in any way related!
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
Nine Apollo lunar missions, 24 pioneers. There should be 24 suitable craters.
I'm afraid I still don't see it that way. Those that gave their lives in the program, sure. Those who were first, absolutely. However Apollo was a massive team effort and I'm afraid that singling out every lunar astronaut just doesn't seem fair when there were around another 400,000 mostly anonymous persons, many of whom made far greater contributions.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-16-2012 04:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You have to draw the line somewhere. The men who built the tools they used to build the lunar modules should be remembered and honoured, but I really think Pete Conrad did a bit more. To put it bluntly, I say "Lansberg out, Conrad in." If it works on Earth for celebrated politicians, it ought to work on the Moon for a man who actually went there.

canyon42
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posted 07-16-2012 07:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA — and any of us — can "name" anything on the moon, or any other celestial body, anything we please. Just as that ridiculous "international star registry" does. Doesn't mean anyone else in the world will recognize it, though. Hence the whole point of a theoretically independent and international governing body that all entities have agreed to recognize.

Of course, I guess NASA could appeal to that organization to rename something, but I don't see that happening, nor do I think it should. There are other ways, as has been noted, to honor astronauts. And if we took the precedent to heart of starting to rename craters, who is to say that in 50 years "Conrad" won't be renamed after some flash-in-the-pan pop princess who hasn't even been born yet?

Blackarrow
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posted 11-29-2012 06:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sadly, the recent death of Neil Armstrong makes this issue even more relevant. I see there are moves to re-name NASA's Dryden Research Center in honour of Neil Armstrong. I make no comment about this proposal, except to say that if there is a genuine desire to replace the name of a distinguished person with the name of an even more distinguished person, how much more justified would it be to re-name a significant lunar crater in honour of the first man to set foot on the Moon?

If Dryden becomes Armstrong, how much more appropriate would it be for (say) Crater Langrenus to become Crater Armstrong? Or perhaps Smyth's Sea to become Armstrong's Sea?

AstroAutos
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posted 11-29-2012 06:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've been reading through these comments and I have to say Geoffrey has a valid point.

Although it seems unfair to re-name a crater on the Moon or even a building by taking away the name of the previous dedicatee, there are some instances where I feel this could be appropriate.

For example, as has been pointed out here, I don't think it is too unrealistic to think that certain craters on the moon will be re-named to honor men who actually went there or who played a more significant role in space than the original dedicatee.

I'm going to completely contradict myself now and say that I personally feel the Dryden Flight Research Center should keep its current name as it is known worldwide by that name at this stage.

In comparison, a major crater on the moon that is only familiar to us space enthusiasts may be a more suitable way of honoring Neil — his contribution to spaceflight is there for all to see and he deserves proper recognition.

Blackarrow
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posted 12-01-2012 04:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think you're contradicting yourself. Hugh Dryden was the Director of NACA until it was replaced by NASA. He and his work live on in the memories of many people who knew him. I'm sure they would be upset if his name is erased, even if it is replaced by that of Neil Armstrong. In the case of lunar craters, there are plenty of suitable, large craters named after individuals who died centuries ago and whose places in history can only be established with a Google search. The case for re-naming a large lunar crater after the first man on the Moon is overwhelming. The above comments obviously rule out certain craters such as Archimedes, Plato, Copernicus, Tycho, etc.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-01-2012 04:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
...large craters named after individuals who died centuries ago and whose places in history can only be established with a Google search.
Your original suggestion was to rename craters after Conrad, Irwin and Shepard. Centuries from now, won't they too be relegated to Google search results? With the possible exception of Shepard (for being the first American in space) will the public readily remember the third or eighth person to walk on the moon?

Gonzo
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posted 12-02-2012 08:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gonzo   Click Here to Email Gonzo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sadly enough, how many can tell you who Shepard was today? Obviously WE know, being the smart people we are, but for the general public? For that matter, how many can even tell you what Neil Armstrong actually did today?

Naming craters is a sticky wicket. They have the names they have today for a reason. A reason many would argue shouldn't be broken. However, a case can be made to honor those that followed. But at what cost? We have to remember, honor is only as good as our memories. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -George Santayana

Blackarrow
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posted 12-02-2012 12:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Centuries from now, won't they too be relegated to Google search results?
  1. No-one is sadder than I am that the list now contains four names;

  2. Point taken about Google searches, but among the scientific and astronomical community I assume there is a higher name-recognition for people DIRECTLY associated with increasing knowledge about the Moon than for some other, obscure, individuals;

  3. The process of changing the names of large lunar craters would in itself create interest and name-recognition;

  4. To me, it just seems blatantly obvious that the first men to set foot on the Moon should be honoured, after their deaths, by giving their names to large craters. There is, quite rightly, a large crater on the lunar far-side called Gagarin, but at the time there were plenty of far-side craters to spare. One option could be to re-name the large crater "Apollo" as "Armstrong." That wouldn't involve removing anyone else's name. I have also mentioned Mare Smythii ("Smyth's Sea") on the Moon's eastern limb. The equatorial Apollo flights regularly passed over this mare region. Armstrong piloted "Eagle" over it on his landing approach. So why not "Mare Armstrong"?
Does anyone reading this have any involvement with the International Astronomical Union? Does it have a view?

canyon42
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posted 12-02-2012 05:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The group in the IAU that is in charge of naming features on all solar system bodies is known as the Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature. It has a variety of subgroups that are each devoted to a separate branch of body (the moon, Mars, Jupiter satellites, and so on). There are different categories from which names are taken for each body or type of body (for example, Jupiter's moons being named after Zeus's romantic "conquests," although I believe those ran out a while back, and they are now being named from other sources). Names proposed by these different subgroups are then approved by the overall working group, and hence by the IAU itself.

That's where I suspect any attempt to rename a crater on the moon will fail. Not only does this group have no real history of changing previously-assigned names, it works within the categories already established for each celestial body. Would some members of this group being open to the idea of naming something to honor Armstrong (for one example)? Quite possibly, but I doubt that would extend to wiping out a preexisting name--and all "large" lunar craters already have names.

If you want to pursue it, this might be a good first contact.

David Bryant
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posted 12-03-2012 02:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Bryant   Click Here to Email David Bryant     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was, of course, the IAU that removed Pluto's planetary status.

I personally feel that was a mistake, because it means many grade school teachers no longer tell kids about the amazingly eccentric Percival Lowell!

Blackarrow
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posted 12-03-2012 05:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If the IAU meets in New York, I might fly into Idlewild Airport and lobby them.

moorouge
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posted 12-04-2012 02:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If all the craters on the Moon are named already, does this mean that when the Chinese get there in the not too distant future their astronauts will not be able to have their feat recorded on the lunar surface?

A crater named after Richard Branson and the Golden Spike team doesn't bear thinking about!!!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-17-2012 05:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think NASA has just presented the solution...
NASA has named the site where twin agency spacecraft impacted the moon Monday in honor of the late astronaut Sally K. Ride, who was America's first woman in space and a member of the probes' mission team.
No need to rename craters after the moonwalkers — the impact sites of the S-IVB and ascent stages can each be named after the moon voyagers...

All times are CT (US)

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