Author:Dava Sobel
Topics:Quotes about Science

Quote by Dava Sobel : “Magellan’s sudden identification of millions”

Magellan’s sudden identification of millions of land forms fomented a crisis in nomenclature. The International Astronomical Union responded with an all-female naming scheme that evoked a goddess or giantess from every heritage and era, along with heroines real or invented. Thus the Venusian highlands, the counterparts to Earth’s continents, took the names of love goddesses — Aphrodite Terra, Ishtar Terra, Lada Terra, with hundreds of their hills and dales christened for fertility goddesses and sea goddesses. Large craters commemorate notable women (including American astronomer Maria Mitchell, who photographed the 1882 transit of Venus from the Vassar College Observatory), while small craters bear common first names for girls. Venus’s scarps hail seven goddesses of the hearth, small hills the goddesses of the sea, ridges the goddesses of the sky, and so on across low plains named from myth and legend for the likes of Helen and Guinevere, down canyons called after Moon goddesses and huntresses. – Dava Sobel