John Lennon, 9 others honored with Mercury craters

IMAGE: Mercury's Lennon crater, named for Beatle John Lennon
Mercury's Lennon crater, named for Beatle John Lennon, as seen from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft.

Imagine that. John Lennon is getting a tribute on Mercury.

The late Beatles legend is among 10 famous people who are having craters on the planet closest to the sun named after them by the International Astronomical Union.

The IAU, which is in charge of planetary and satellite nomenclature, named the craters in honor of "deceased artists, musicians, painters, and authors who have made outstanding or fundamental contributions to their field and have been recognized as art historically significant figures for more than 50 years."

In addition to Lennon, the newly named craters are: 

Barney, for Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972), an American playwright, poet and novelist who lived as an ex-patriate in France.

Berlioz, for Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), a French Romantic composer best known for his compositions “Symphonie fantastique” and “Grande messe des morts.”

Calder, for Alexander Calder (1898-1976), an American sculptor best known as the originator of the mobile, a type of kinetic sculpture made with delicately balanced or suspended components that move in response to motor power or air currents.

Capote, for Truman Capote (1924-1984), an American author whose short stories, novels, plays, and nonfiction include the novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and the true-crime novel “In Cold Blood.”

Caruso, for Enrico Caruso (1873-1921), an Italian tenor who sang to great acclaim at the major opera houses of Europe and the Americas and appeared in a wide variety of roles from the Italian and French repertoires that ranged from the lyric to the dramatic.

Ensor, for James Sidney Ensor (1860-1949), a Belgian painter and printmaker, considered an important influence on expressionism and surrealism.

Giambologna, for Jean Boulogne Giambologna (1529-1608), a Dutch sculptor known for his marble and bronze statuary in a late Renaissance or Mannerist style.

Remarque, for Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970), a German author best known for his novel “All Quiet on the Western Front,” which depicted the horrors of war from the viewpoint of young German soldiers.

Vieira da Silva, for Maria Elena Vieira da Silva (1908-1992), a Portuguese-born French painter of intricate, semiabstract compositions.

The 10 newly named craters join 114 other craters named since the MESSENGER spacecraft’s first flyby of Mercury in January 2008. In 2011 MESSENGER, an acronym of MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging, became the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury.

“The MESSENGER team is delighted that the IAU has named an additional 10 impact craters on Mercury,” MESSENGER principal investigator Sean Solomon of Columbia University said in a press release issued by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which built and operates the MESSENGER spacecraft. “We are particularly pleased that eight of the 10 individuals honored made all or many of their artistic contributions in the twentieth century, the same century in which the MESSENGER mission was conceived, proposed, and approved for flight. Imagine.”

It’s not Lennon’s first celestial honor. On Oct. 9, 2009, the International Lunar Geographic Society announced that a crater on the moon had been renamed to honor the late Beatles star on his birthday. The crater, located in the moon’s Lacus Somniorum (“Lake of Dreams”) district, was given the designation the John Lennon Peace Crater.