Saturday, February 4, 2012

Naming the Moon


Let's dream: What would you name the first human moon base?

And remember this isn't 1961, and we aren't a politically incorrect Good Old Boys crony club, naming a MOON landing program after a god of the SUN, derp... Apollo? Really? And no one called them out on that?

Selênê was the Titan goddess of the moon, and one of the first known depictions of her come from a 5th Century B.C. wine kylix, upon which she rides a chariot pulled by winged horses.

Selene Kylix
Goddess Selênê -- or in Greek: Σεληνη
(Antikensammlung, Berlin)

Methinks that "Selene" would be a great name for a moon habitat. Selene's great love was the royal shepherd Endymion... so, he should lend his name to the first moon port, I suppose.

Other Greek moon goddesses or associations included Artemis, Bendis, Eileithyia, Hekate, Hera (who in some writings replaced Selene in the love story with Endymion), Leukippides and Pasiphae. Wow. Serious spelling challenges.

Roman Goddess of the moon, of course, was Luna… but the Soviets used that name on no less than 31 space crafts. So, let's try to be original here.

Selene and EndymionSelene & Endymion by Victor Florence Pollet
(V&A Museum, London)

Every culture on every continent had their own lunar deities, of course, and they number in the thousands; most,unsurprisingly, are protectors of people during dark hours. Many are humanoid, both male and female, though still others represent everything from light rays to water to crimes committed during the night to egg whites (no joke).

Many of the most colorful personifications include the Norse Mani, the Slavic Zorya (another word form of Zvezda, a current ISS module), the Japanese Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto , the Hindu Chandra, the Australian Aboriginal Ngalindi, the Egyptian Khonsu, the Aztec Coyolxauhqui and the Chinese Chang'e (current name for their moon probes).

Then again, pop culture also lends its own set of influences, courtesy of my wise-cracking Facebook pals...

Moon Base Names