Press Release

Dr. Seuss, Alvin Ailey among the Names Selected for 23 Mercury Craters

By SpaceRef Editor
May 3, 2012
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Dr. Seuss, Alvin Ailey among the Names Selected for 23 Mercury Craters

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to assign 23 new names to impact craters on Mercury. The IAU has been the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919. In keeping with the established naming theme for craters on Mercury, all of the newly designated features are named after famous deceased artists, musicians, or authors.

The newly named craters include:

* Ailey, for Alvin Ailey (1931-1989), an American choreographer credited with popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African-American participation in 20th century concert dance.

* Aksakov, for Sergey Aksakov (1791-1859), a 19th-century Russian literary figure remembered for his semi-autobiographical tales of family life, as well as for his books on hunting and fishing.

* Balanchine, for George Balanchine (1904-1983), one of the 20th century’s most famous choreographers, a developer of ballet in the United States and the co-founder and ballet master of New York City Ballet; he wrote more than 400 ballets.

* Ellington, for Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974), an American composer, pianist, and big-band leader who, over the course of a 50-year career, wrote more than 1,000 compositions. A major figure in the history of jazz, he also wrote music that stretched into other genres, including blues, gospel, film scores, popular, and classical.

* Faulkner, for William Faulkner (1897-1962), considered one of the most important writers of U.S. Southern literature. A Nobel Prize laureate, he worked in a variety of media but is best known for his novels and short stories.

* Fonteyn, for Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991), an English ballerina regarded as one of the greatest classical ballet dancers of all time. She spent her entire career as a dancer with the Royal Ballet, eventually being appointed “Prima Ballerina Assoluta” of the company by Queen Elizabeth II.

* Grainger, for Percy Grainger (1882-1961), an Australian-born composer, arranger, and pianist who, during the course of a 65-year career, played a prominent role in the revival of interest in British folk music in the early years of the 20th century.

* Grotell, for Maija Grotell (1899-1973), a Finland-born ceramist and teacher known for her experiments in glaze technology and sometimes described as the “mother of American ceramics.”

* Henri, for Robert Henri (1865-1929), an American painter and teacher. He was a leading figure of the Ashcan School, an early 20th century artistic movement best known for works portraying scenes of daily life in New York’s poorer neighborhoods.

* Holst, for Gustav Theodore Holst (1874-1934), an English composer most famous for his orchestral suite, ‘The Planets”.

* Kofi, for Vincent Akwete Kofi (1923-1974), a Ghanaian sculptor who borrowed extensively from traditional African concepts of stylization, emphasis, distortion and symbolism.

* Lismer, for Arthur Lismer (1885-1969), a Canadian painter and member of the Group of Seven, a team of artists famous for its paintings inspired by the Canadian landscape and for initiating the first major Canadian national art movement.

* Magritte, for Rene Magritte (1898-1967), a Belgian artist and one of the most prominent Surrealist painters, whose works were characterized by particular symbols, including the female torso, the bowler hat, the castle, the rock, and the window.

* Mendelssohn, for Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), a German composer, pianist, organist, and conductor of the early Romantic period. Among his most famous works is “Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, which includes the “Wedding March”.

* Nabokov, for Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), a multilingual Russian writer. He wrote his first literary works in Russian, but rose to international prominence for the novels he composed in English; his “Lolita” is frequently cited as one of the most important novels of the 20th century.

* Nureyev, for Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993), a Russian dancer, considered one of the most celebrated ballet dancers of the 20th century and credited with expanding the role to the male ballet dancer who once served only as support to the women.

* Pasch, for Ulrica Fredrica Pasch (1735-1796), a Swedish painter and miniaturist and one of the few female artists known in Scandinavia before the 19th century. She was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts.

* Petipa, for Marius Petipa (1818-1910), a French ballet dancer, teacher and choreographer considered to be the most influential ballet master and choreographer of ballet that has ever lived.

* Rustaveli, for Shota Rustaveli (1172-1216), a Georgian poet of the 12th century, and one of the greatest contributors to Georgian literature. He is author of “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin”, the Georgian national epic poem.

* Seuss, for Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991), an American writer and cartoonist most widely known for his 46 children’s books written under the pen names Dr. Seuss, Theo LeSieg, and, in one case, Rosetta Stone.

* Sousa, for John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known particularly for American military and patriotic marches.

* Stevenson, for Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer. His best-known books include “Treasure Island”, “Kidnapped”, and “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”.

* Warhol, for Andy Warhol (1928-1987), a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture, and advertisement.

“The MESSENGER team is delighted that these geologically important features on Mercury now have official names,” says MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “As these names appear regularly in the scientific literature and on maps of the innermost planet, the scientific community and the public will have many occasions to remember the brilliant individuals from many cultures whose contributions to the arts have enriched the lives of all.”

These 23 newly named craters join 53 other craters named since MESSENGER’s first Mercury flyby in January 2008. More information about the names of features on Mercury and the other objects in the Solar System can be found at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Planetary Nomenclature Web site:

SpaceRef staff editor.