Behind the Magic of Naming Moon’s Landmarks – IAU’s Intricate Process Unveiled!

"From 'Image Capture' to 'Official Use': Dive into the Fascinating World of Naming Celestial Features!"

Attention India
3 Min Read
  • (IAU) orchestrates the celestial ballet of naming lunar landmarks.
  • Discover the 5 key stages, from 'Image Capture' to 'Official Use,'
  • Witness Prime Minister Modi's revelation of 'Shiv Shakti'

23rd August 2023, Mumbai: The naming of points and features on celestial bodies, including the Moon, follows a standardized process established by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a global organization of professional astronomers. Here’s how the naming process typically works:

1.‘Image Capture:’

When a space mission captures images of the surface of a planet or satellite, new themes for naming features are chosen. The names of important features are then proposed based on the images and scientific observations.

2. ‘IAU Task Group:’

The appropriate IAU Task Group, often in collaboration with the mission team, proposes names for the features. These proposed names are usually based on themes related to the culture, history, mythology, or notable figures of the country involved in the space mission.

3. ‘Approval Process:’

The proposed names undergo a review process within the IAU. The Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) is responsible for approving the proposed names. This group comprises professional astronomers from around the world.

4. ‘Member Vote:’

The proposed names are subject to a vote by the members of the WGPSN. If a majority of members approve the proposed names, they become official IAU nomenclature.

5. ‘Official Use:’

Once approved, the names are considered official and are used on maps, publications, and other relevant documents. The names become part of the standardized naming convention for celestial bodies.

Shiv Shakti Landing point

For example, in the case of Chandrayaan-3’s landing site, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the landing point on the Moon will be named ‘Shiv Shakti’. This name was likely proposed by the Indian mission team and was subsequently approved by the IAU after following the established review and voting process.

Similarly, in the past, features like craters and landscapes on the Moon have been named after notable figures, scientists, historical figures, and themes that reflect the country’s heritage and contributions to space exploration. Overall, the IAU’s standardized naming process ensures consistency and accuracy in identifying and naming features on celestial bodies, and it involves collaboration between the mission team and professional astronomers from around the world.

By Yashika Desai

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