29 Moon craters named after women
Look at a Moon atlas, and you’ll see a land populated with the names of philosophers, mathematicians, and astronomers. Great men like Plato, Aristarchus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Planck, have been immortalized by naming Moon craters after them, cementing their names in the firmament. But – what about the women? Out of the 1,605 named craters on the lunar surface, 29 are named after women – that is 1.8%. What does this percentage signify?
Naming something, especially a place, is an expression of ownership. It is also a political means of controlling discourse by superimposing the established, dominant culture on otherwise neutral ground. In this power structure – here enacted by the International Astronomical Union – women are not part of the equation. But what is lost when the female presence is omitted?
To highlight this issue, I decided to research the locations of the lunar craters named after women using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. After capturing the most detailed images of the craters possible, I created a series of 27 drawings on paper, using acrylic paint and graphite. Each drawing is a portrait of a crater, accentuating topographical features, textures, and shadowing.
The next step is to print the craters with a 3D printer, to give them shape and presence. I am especially interested in this three-dimensional representation. A crater is essentially a void, a hollow in the regolith. The void echoes the underrepresentation of women in positions of power, in the scientific canon, and in history. The void also speaks to its opposite: each crater is a result of an impact, a shattering of the calm surface. The 27 women who made such an impact will be thrown into full relief with each sculpture. This process is currently in progress; I am working to translate the LIDAR data from NASA’s Orbital Data Explorer into printable 3D files.
To read more about the project, please visit this article which appeared in the Globe and Mail on March 10, 2016. *
As part of an art education pilot project I created a short video documenting myself in my studio while creating one of the Moon crater drawings.
View it here.
*At the time the article appeared I had only identified 27 craters as being named after women. Unfortunately I had missed two craters in my count.