Mercury's Surface is Littered with Classical Composers

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 11:31 AM

Mercury, as photographed by the Messenger probe Mercury, as photographed by the Messenger probe (NASA)

NASA’s Messenger probe recently became the first spacecraft ever to orbit Mercury, having completed an extended two-year mission in March. During that time, it discovered ice on the planet's North Pole, collected data on its magnetic field, and took nearly 100,000 images.

But for classical music fans, something else may stand out: the planet now has some 50 craters named after composers — from Bach to Wagner, Monteverdi to Mussorgsky — along with other deceased artists, musicians and authors. Who gets credit for this? The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has been the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature for nearly a century. 

Below is a map of the surface, recently posted on the website Reddit. See how many composers you can spot.

(click to enlarge)

Gustav Holst's homage to the god Mercury:


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