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Daring names for high flyers and space travellers

We’ve noted in an earlier post the growing interest in adopting traditional surnames for first names. Now thanks to a Nasa space probe, comes a string of fascinating opportunities for parents who want to follow writers with epic scientific imagination and set their children on a route to a distant future.

After a consultation process around the world, the International Astronomical Union (AIU) has chosen from fiction a dozen names that it has given to craters, valleys and mountains on Charon the largest moon circling the faraway planet Pluto.

One way or another we’re familiar with Charon – more usually Sharon – and of course Pluto was collared by Walt Disney as a cartoon dog.

Now the surname Clarke, with or without a final e, may get a first name booster from space exploration as a mountain formation on Charon has been titled Clarke Montes in honour of Arthur C Clarke, scientist and sci-fi author of 2001 A Space Odyssey. Clark already has a link to the extraordinary thanks to Clark Kent, otherwise Superman – and Clark is rising in the list of boys names.

If you’re really into the concept of future space travel you just might be ahead of the curve by choosing names like Butler or Nemo for a son or Dorothy for a daughter who will go places.

They’re in the list of new names for physical features on Charon published by the AIU based on images sent back to Earth by Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft in 2015. Here they all are:

Argo Chasma named for the ship sailed by Jason and the Argonauts during their quest for the Golden Fleece.

Butler Mons honours Octavia E. Butler, science fiction writer whose Xenogenesis trilogy describes humankind’s departure from Earth and subsequent return.

Caleuche Chasma named for the mythological ghost ship that travels the seas around the small island of Chiloé, off the coast of Chile.

Clarke Montes honours Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction writer and futurist whose novels were depictions of space exploration.

Dorothy Crater recognizes Dorothy Gale’s adventures in the magical world of Oz.

Kubrick Mons honours film director Stanley Kubrick, whose 2001: A Space Odyssey tells the story of humanity’s evolution from tool-using hominids to space explorers and beyond.

Mandjet Chasma named for one of the boats in Egyptian mythology that carried the sun god Ra across the sky each day, one of the earliest mythological examples of space travel.

Nasreddin Crater is named for the protagonist in folktales told mainly through the Middle East.

Nemo Crater named for the captain of the Nautilus, the submarine in Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870).

Pirx Crater named for the main character in short stories by Stanislaw Lem, who travels between the Earth, Moon and Mars.

Revati Crater for the main character in the Hindu epic narrative Mahabharata, widely regarded as the first in history (circa 400 BC) to include the concept of time travel.

Sadko Crater recognizes the adventurer who travelled to the bottom of the sea in the medieval Russian epic Bylina.

International Astronomical Union https://www.iau.org

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