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Moonstruck: Cartographic Explorations of the Moon by Mary Adela Blagg and Kira B. Shingareva



This article highlights the contributions of two women pioneers in mapping the moon, Mary Adela Blagg (1858–1944) and Kira B. Shingareva (1938–2013). It first lays out the cultural and social context of their respective successful efforts to map the near and far sides of the moon, respectively, as well as a history of lunar nomenclature that exemplifies the unique challenge that these women took upon themselves to set a new course in planetary research. While some readers might not consider Mary Blagg and Kira Shingareva explorers in the usual sense of the word, one could argue that both were committed to exploring a terra incognita (or rather, luna incognita) and their efforts took place on the outer edges of geographical knowledge.
Cartographic Explorations of the Moon by Mary Adela Blagg and Kira B. Shingareva1
Will C. van den Hoonaard
1 My book, Map Worlds: A History of Women in Cartogra p h y, (Waterloo, ON:
Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013), provides the details regarding the
activities of Mary Blagg and Kira Shingareva. Map Worlds covers nearly 700
years of cartographic history, citing 219 women by name and offering
vignettes of some two dozen women pioneers in the field. This paper is a
revised version of the one presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society
for the History of Discoveries, held in Austin, TX, 29 November 2014. I
thank Dr. Lauren Beck for her encouragement and assistance. I am most
grateful for the assistance provided by Professor Alexander
Gurshtein, Dr. Irina Karachevtseva, and Dr. Vladislav Shevchenko.
For publication in Terr ae Inco gni ta e (Win te r, 201 6)
With few exceptions, a masculinist framework captures narratives of discovery and
exploration: men writing about men. It is therefore gratifying for any scholar to seize an
opportunity that valorizes the experiences, reports, stories, and accounts of women explorers.
This article highlights the contributions of two women pioneers in mapping the Moon, Mary
Adela Blagg (1858-1944) and Kira B. Shingareva (1938-2013). It first sets out the culture and
social context of their respective successful efforts to map the Near Side and the Far Side of the
Moon, respectively. Throughout, the paper offers a history of lunar nomenclature that exemplifies
the unique challenge that women took upon themselves to set a new course in planetary research.
While some readers might not consider Mary Blagg and Kira Shingareva as Aexplorers@ in the
usual sense of the word, one could argue that both were committed to exploring a terra incognita
(or rather, luna incognita). Besides, their efforts took place on the outer edges of geographical
Social and Cultural Context
There is one particular aspect that makes lunar and planetary exploration and mapping
stand out from earth-bound explorations. Lunar and outer space exploration does not consistently
hold the attention of the public. Chris Gebhardt, for example, states that A[c]apturing and holding
the attention of the general public for space exploration purposes is often a difficult thing to
achieve.@2 For that reason alone, NASA launched the first lunar exploration mission led by the
2 Chris Gebhardt, AYIR (Part II) B Lunar and Saturnian Exploration Captures Public=s
Attention,@ (28 December 2013). ...
Ames Research Center from the Wallops Flight Facility at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in
Virginia. On 7 September 2013, the unique launch location allowed the general public and
American news media in the most-densely populated corridor in the United States to see the arc
of the rocket traversing the night sky. Public attention fades quickly until another remarkable
discovery in space re-invigorates that attention. And there is no guarantee of success. There are
thus no Nobel Prizes that have fallen to astronomers and other scientists who are solely pre-
occupied with lunar and outer-space discoveries that might have drawn the public=s attention.
The oscillating public attention and the long hours of unrecognized work have kept lunar and
outer-space discoveries to the margins of science.
These uncertainties affected the process of scientific discovery and the entrance of women
and men in the field. Mary Adela Blagg was the first who took on the task of collating and
synthesizing the names of near-side lunar features; Kira B. Shingareva, it seems, had to cajole men
to join her in the task of Far-Side lunar nomenclature which was probably considered by many as
a mundane exercise.
Miss Mary Adela Blagg was an indefatigable lunar nomenclature researcher. She had
worked diligently to identify and resolve differences in names and letters given on different maps
by 19th century lunar authorities. She disentangled earlier errors that resulted in cartographic and
nomenclatural chaos, and created order out of that chaos. Not unlike amateurs in other fields,
such as botany and geology, Blagg published her work in scientific journals. She published six
papers in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association and, in 1916, became one of the
first five women to be elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. The publication in
1935 of the Named Lunar Formations catalogue and maps3 Amemorialized the sanity she brought
to confused situation.@4 The following paragraphs illustrate the challenge and the chaos that
accompanied lunar nomenclature.
Located about 400,000 km from Earth, mapping the Moon easily posed a unique set of
challenges already confronting Leonardo da Vinci (1609) and Galileo (1610) when they
created their Moon drawings with the help of their rudimentary telescopes.5 Within one
generation, cartographic nomenclaturists soon felt impelled to designate names to lunar
In the 17th century alone, astronomers introduced three systems of nomenclatures.
Strikingly, these systems still resonate strongly in contemporary naming of lunar features. The
Belgian Langrenus (Michael Florent van Langren) (1645)6 was the first to assign names to the
features on the Moon visible through a telescope. He resorted to using names of scientists, and
members of royalty and the nobility to mark lunar features. While, on one hand, Hevelius (1647)
had a different take in that he likened the front side of the Moon to a map of Europe and adjacent
portions of Asia and Africa, naming the lunar features after terrestrial counterparts.7 Hevelius'
3 Mary Adela Blagg and Karl Müller, W.H. Wesley, Samuel Arthur Saunder, Julius H.G. Franz,
Named Lunar Formations (London: P. Lund, Humphries & Co, 1935).
4 Chuck Wood, The Moon-Wiki (,+2009).
5 See, e.g., Richard Brill, AScience/Physics 122 Telecourse Syllabus.@ Honolulu Community
College. 2014. %E2%80%99s+Moon+drawings&rlz...
6 Chuck Wood, AA Penchant for Names.@ (28 Jan. 2006).
7 Henrik I. Hargitai and Kira Shingareva, APlanetary Nomenclatures: A Representation of Human
Culture and Alien Landscapes,@ in Advances in Cartography and GIScience: Selections from
ICC 2011 Paris (Vol. 2), ed. Anne Ruas (Berlin: Springer, 2011), pp. 275-88.
system was found to be unsuitable because a single name frequently was assigned to an entire
group of craters and had names that were Ainconveniently long.@8 Riccioli (1651), on the other
hand, used the personal names of astronomers, philosophers, and other scientists whose names at
least were associated in some manner with the Moon.9 Throughout this process, as Théophile
Moreux averred in 1950 according to Hargitai and Shingareva, the Moon became Aa cemetery of
astronomers and pantheon thinkers@.10
Nomenclaturists in the 18th century followed these earlier premises, but with better
telescopes they were able to chart much more of the lunar surface in far greater detail than had
been achieved before. Johann Schröter added more than 70 new names of astronomers and other
scientists, as well as numerous subsidiary letter designations.11 With the advance of the telescope,
the 19th century introduced refinements the nomenclatures of the Moon. It had become possible to
identify small craters and isolated hills; craters were assigned Roman letters and peaks and tines,
Greek letters. Capital letters were assigned to features the positions of which had been measured;
lowercase letters were used for unmeasured features. There were numerous rough and inaccurate
measures, misleading, and conflicting nomenclatures found in a large number of works.12 Some
8 Gary L. Gutschewski, Danny C Kinsler, and Ewen A Whitaker, Atlas and Gazetteer of the Near
Side of the Moon (Washington, DC: Scientific and Technical Information Office, National
Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1971), p. 4.
9 Gutschewski et al, Atlas and Gazetteer, p. 4.
10 Hargitai and Shingareva, APlanetary Nomenclatures.@
11 Anon., AJohann Schröter,@
12 See, e.g., Ewen A. Whitaker, Mapping and Naming the Moon: A History of Lunar
Cartography and Nomenclature (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 173.
lunar crater walls are as high as 10,000 feet, leading nomenclaturists having to decide at what
depth a feature would need to be called a crater, depression, etc.
This was the conflicting lunar nomenclature system that Mary Adela Blagg felt called to
remedy. Born on 17 May 1858 in Cheadle, Staffordshire, England, Mary Blagg had five sisters
and four brothers; one of her brothers proved to be a key juncture in her life and in her studies.
She remained her whole life in Cheadle. She studied algebra and German, but taught herself
mathematics using one of her brothers= textbooks. Denied to enter university in her mid-forties,
she took a university course in astronomy at Wellington College. Professor J. A. Hardcastle
(1868-1917) recognized her brilliance and invited her to solve a major problem in selenography,
namely the lack of standardization of nomenclature for features on the Moon. His invitation to
Blagg was singularly important in light of a 1905 decision by the International Association of
Academies to delve into solving this particular problem, namely to collate the names of all known
lunar features. Roger Hutchings13 mentioned that Blagg had Asorted out a mass of original
variable observations@ by Joseph Baxendall (1815-1887), the English meteorologist and
In 1913, Blagg published her Collated List.14 The reviewer A.H. Joy describes this work
as Aa long step in the problem of lunar nomenclature and will be the basis from which a uniform
system may be devised.=15 When, in 1935, Blagg published her Named Lunar Formations with
13 Roger Hutchings, ABlagg, Mary Adela (1858-1944),@ Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
14 Mary Adela Blagg, Collated List of Lunar Formations Named or Lettered in the Maps of
Neilson, Schmidt, and Mädler. Edinburgh: Neill and Co., 1913).
15 A.H. Joy, AReview of >Collected List of Lunar Formations by Mary A. Blagg=,@
Astrophysical Journal, 43 (1916), p. 88.
Karl Muller of Vienna, the publication became the standard reference work for 30 years, naming
over 6100 features of the Moon.16 She compared how each prominent feature has been named in
the earlier, classical maps. Even though she lacked basic drafting skills, Mary Blagg, back in the
1930s, penciled the official lunar map for the International Astronomical Union that was the last
graphical word on lunar nomenclature until the mid-1960s when the System of Lunar Craters17
officially replaced it.
Blagg=s family must have been startled by her scholarly achievements. In 1916, the Royal
Astronomical Society elected her as FellowBthe first woman. B editing the whole by 1918 for
discussion by Turner and subsequent publication; a dozen papers in Monthly Notices. In 1920, the
newly created International Astronomical Union appointed Blagg to the Lunar Commission under
whose aegis she continued her work on standardization. By 1922, she was committed to draw
maps to be included in an atlas depicting the Moon=s ten outer portions and the four inner
quadrants. She served for twenty years as volunteer for Professor H. H. Turner, Director of the
University of Oxford Observatory. Although reserved, Blagg was a straight shooter and did not
refrain from criticizing earlier astronomers; the scientific community accepted her criticism which
rested on the solid foundations of having done >masses of tedious work for others.=18
Despite her desire to continue living in Cheadle (and leading a quiet and isolated life),
Blagg performed volunteer work which included caring for Belgian refugee children during World
War I. An obituary describes her of >modest and retiring disposition, in fact very much of a
16 Anon., ABlagg and Müller,@üller, (2011), p. 9.
17 D.W.G. Arthur, A.P. Agnieray, C.A. Wood, C.R. Chapman, and R.A. Horvath, System of
Lunar Craters: Quadrant I.,30 (1963), pp. 71-78.
18 Hutchings, ABlagg, Mary Adela.@
recluse,= and rarely attended meetings19B Blagg never married. The International Astronomical
Union named a lunar crater for her after her death. She died on 14 April 1944, at the age of 86
after having suffered from a lengthy heart disease.20
Her painstaking work resulted in the crafting of the first viable map of the Near Side of the
Moon. What the world was waiting for now was a map of the Far Side of the MoonBa map that
needed to wait for at least fifteen years before anyone had any inkling of what that would look
like. As space travel was unimaginable then, reaching the Far Side of the Moon must have
resembled science fiction, to say the least. The honour of cartographically reaching the Far Side of
the Moon fell on the Soviets and on a very young Kira Shingareva who was six years old when
Mary Blagg died in1944.
KIRA SHINGAREVA (1938 -2013)
In all aspects, one should not be surprised that the Soviet Union would take the lead in
mapping the Far Side of the Moon. Theirs was (and still is) a culture that was transfixed on outer
space, much like Canada is fixated on the Arctic as part of its national consciousness. The early
record of the Soviets and Americans reaching the Moon, weighs in favour of the Soviets. In 1958,
there were four failed attempts by Americans to reach the Moon,21 while the Soviets after that
time had twenty successful lunar attempts, including five firsts, namely the first probe to impact
on the Moon, the first flyby and image of the Far Side of the Moon, soft landing, putting a lunar
orbiter into space, and the first B circumlunar probe to return to Earth. The world was just
19 Anon., “Mary Adela Blagg,@ en. (2011), retrieved 25 March 2011.
20 Hutchings, ABlagg, Mary Adela.@
21 Gutschewski et al., Atlas and Gazetteer, p. 239.
working through the realization that the Soviets were the first to rocket a satellite into space in
One wonders whether one can speak of the conflation of science and popular culture that
led would explain such radically different early outcomes of the space race. Russians have highly
hospitable and favourable sentiments about space exploration. Americans, judging from their
popular culture, kept outer space at bay with a fearful understanding of extraterrestrial space. The
culture, one might assume, worked against the engagement of women in American space
programs. The first American woman in space was Sally Ride in 1983Btwenty years after the
Russian Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova.
American popular culture depicted outer space as a source of fear and trepidation,
especially during the Cold War, reinvigorating fearful sentiments on the Cold War. The television
series, The Twilight Zone, was unsparing in creating those fears. Popular films perpetuated those
fears, too: Forbidden Planet (1956), It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958), The Angry Red
Planet (1959), The Phantom Planet (1961), The Terrornauts (1967), and Galaxy of Terror
(1981)Bto name a fewBspeak to the terrors, reinforcing Cold War sentiments. Unsurprisingly,
Susan Blackmore22 cites a Roper Poll claiming that nearly four million Americans believe that
kidnapping by aliens to be true. American popular culture casted a fearful image of aliens. Forced
by recent discoveries, however, American culture might have turned a corner, as evidenced by
publications made available by National Academies Press with such titles as New Worlds, New
22 Susan Blackmore, AAbduction by Aliens or Sleep Paralysis?@ Skeptical Inquirer. 22 (1998).
Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the
Decade 2013-2022, Brave New Universe, the Depths of Space, and Leaving Earth.23
When one acquaints oneself with the Russian outlook on outer space, an entirely different
image emerges. Whether looking at Soviet propaganda posters or commemorative stamps that
celebrate Soviet/Russian accomplishments in space. Their celebratory tone held a majestic,
inspiring, and hopeful engagement with outer space. As mentioned earlier, the first woman in
space was the Russian Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (b. 1937), travelling on the Soviet
VOSTOK 6 on 15 June 1963. We note that Tereshkova is of the same generation (and just two
years older) as Kira Shingareva who has devoted considerable part of her life to mapping the Far
Side of the Moon (and also Mars and Phobos).
The first map of the far side of the Moon were made by the group headed by Professor
Yury N. Lipsky in Sternberg State Astronomical Institute, Lomonosov Moscow University which
involved Ludmila N. Bondarenko and Klavdia I. Dektyareva. These maps, the first Atlas of the
Far Side of the Moon and the first globe of the Moon were created from images taken from
aboard the space station Luna-3 on 7 October 1959, showing 2/3 of the entire territory of the
lunar far side. We learn that,
Luna 3 took the pictures on 35mm film which was automatically developed on
board. The pictures were then scanned and the signal transmitted to Earth days
later in what was perhaps also the first interplanetary fax. 17 pictures were
4dfd2cadd2- 102588949&mc_cid=4dfd2cadd2&mc_eid=e4a09c20f1
received providing enough coverage and resolution to construct a far side map and
identify a few major features.24
Completion of a full review of the Far Side of the Moon occurred in 1965. As a result of
the shooting from aboard the AIS (Automatic Interplanetary Station) "Zond-3" in 1965, a
preliminary review of the entire surface of the lunar sphere was completed. Now we have map of
the Moon and the lunar globe, which could cover a significant portion of the entire lunar surface,
including the visible and invisible hemispheres. This task would be recognized as the most
important scientific achievements with a special Government decree of the USSR awarded to the
group led by Lipsky with a large government grant. These surveys led to preparing the first
edition of the complete map of the Moon and the full Moon globe. We are informed that in fact it
was a few years earlier that Shingareva left the Sternberg Institute and that she was not involved
in these earliest, incomplete cartographic works, including lunar nomenclatures.25 J.F. Rodionova
was a young cartographer who also become involved at roughly the same time as Shingareva.26
Shingareva was busy for 12 years at the USSR Academy of Sciences, participating in the Moon
Exploration Project until 1977.27
24 Gutschewski et al, Atlas and Gazetteer, p. 239.
25 Shevchenko, email, 17 April 2014
26 J.F. Rodionova, ALunar Maps and Space Achievements,@ Proceedings of the Fourth
International Conference on the Exploration and Utilization of the Moon, 10-14 July 2000.
(Paris: European Spaced Agency, SP-462., Sept. 2000) pp. 11-13.
27 Whitaker, Mapping and Naming the Moon, provides a full account of the exploration of the
Moon. According to David Strauss (“Book Review, Mapping and Naming the Moon: A History
of Lunar Cartography and Nomenclature.” Isis. 93 (2), 2002), he was ideally situated to produce
this history as a participant in the Apollo missions and a member of the Task Group of Lunar
Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union. Strauss tells us that Whitaker was
Adirectly involved in conflicts between representatives of different countries over naming newly
discovered lunar features.@
The account of Vladislav Shevchenko, Professor of Lomonosov Moscow State University
and Head of Lunar and Planetary Investigations Department, Sternberg State Astronomical
Institute, offers the following insight about the early mapping of the reverse side of the Moon:
To refer to a large number of identified again on the lunar surface
structures there was a need to expand [the] existing the range of lunar that time. The Commission under the Presidium of the Academy
of Sciences of the USSR, under the chairmanship of Academician AA
Mikhailov, suggested names of new formations. All the technical training of
new names on the full map of the Moon and the full Moon globe was
carried out by members of the Department of Physics of the Moon and
planets in Sternberg Inst. led by Professor Yu. Lipsky. This work was made
by a specialist in the field of linguistics, NB Lavrova and KB Shingareva,
who was invited by Professor Yu. Lipsky in the end of 1965 for this work.
It was the first of Kira=s experience in lunar work.28
Kira Shingareva was born 1938 in Moscow. Her mother died when she was 5 years old;
her father, a chemical engineer, was professor and chair of the Department of Cartography. It
was her father who first suggested, after graduation from high school that she study mathematics
and mathematical theory in the astronomical curriculum at the University of Moscow. She
admitted that Ashe is forever grateful to him for that, loving him dearly.@29 During the final
exams, however, she did not have enough points to be allowed to continue with mathematics (she
28 Shevchenko, email, 17 April 2014.
29 Will C. van den Hoonaard, Interview with Kira Shingareva, Budapest, 6 Sept. 2000.
just missed it by 1 point). As a consequence, she went to Moscow State University for Geodesy
and Cartography which included mathematics in the astronomical curriculum.
At the age of 23 in 1961, she completed her studies at Dresden Technical University
which was located in Eastern Germany and under Soviet control. Shingareva returned to Moscow
in 1962 and, worked for some years in her alma mater, the Moscow State University for Geodesy
and Cartography (MIIGAiK). She earned her PhD in 1974.
A turning point early in her career was the 1967 Congress of the International
Astronomical Union (IAU) in Prague where she presented, for the first time, the nomenclature of
the reverse side of the Moon, on 9 sheets of 1:5M and a globe of the moon 1:10M, representing
95% of the lunar surface. Shingareva presented new list of name on the nomenclature meeting of
the IAU Commission 17 on behalf of Professor Lipsky.30 She was then only 29 years old.
Presenting the Soviet accomplishments in Prague was fraught with failure. According to
Shingareva,31 the failure of the Soviet presentation of Atlas Obratnoi Storony Luny, Ghast 2,
1967 (Atlas of the Far Side of the Moon, Part 2), was due to the Abad quality@ of the images,
and Athere were mistakes.@ Ewen A. Whitaker,32 who was closely involved with the
proceedings in Prague, noted that the map and a list of new names seemed like a fait accompli.
Some 45% of the names were Russian. When the USSR delegation presented their nomenclature
of the Moon, they faced opposition from the United States National Committee on Lunar
30 It was V.V.Shevchenko who had produced the result and the new lunar maps and Atlas Far
Side - II and the ten lunar globes. They were brought to Prague as a gift. However, Shevchenko
did not participate in the Prague Congress ( van den Hoonaard, Interview with Kira Shingareva;
and Email from Alexander Gurshtein, 29 April 2015, to Will. C. van den Hoonaard).
31 van den Hoonaard, Interview with Kira Shingareva.
32 Whitaker, Mapping and Naming the Moon, p. 176.
Mapping and Nomenclature. The Committee suggested that only numbers should be assigned to
the 450 features on the reverse side of the Moon and that Awe should be very conservative in
assigning names,@ and Ause names of permanent renown.@33
According to a participant in the tri-annual meetings of the IAU congresses in the 1960s,
the controversy started a year earlier, in 1966, when Dr. A. Mikhailov of the USSR Academy of
Science sent a letter to Dr. D. Menzel, President of the Lunar nomenclature Commission. Dr.
Mikhailov suggested that Anames of poets, painters, composers, etc. be used to identify the newly
imaged craters on the Zond 3 photos.@34 Later that year, the USSR published a list of 153 new
names, of which some 66 were Russian, by-passing the rules of the IAU Lunar Nomenclature
When Shingareva presented the map, it became evident that the standards that applied to
the Near Side of the Moon, could not apply to the Far Side. The United States scientists already
had much information from their own lunar orbital photographic missions (1966-1967) involving
600,000 high-resolution images,35 but the Soviets wanted her to select craters and name them.
The scientists from Europe agreed with the approach taken by the Russian delegation.
33 Commission de la Lune, >17. Commission de la Lune: Sessions 1 and 2.= Transactions of
the International Astronomical Union. Vol. 13 B. Prague (1967), p. 104.
34 Letter from Ewen A. Whitaker to W.C. van den Hoonaard (28 March 2011).
35 Lunar and Planetary Institute, Lunar Images and Maps.@ Houston, TX. Retrieved from (2010) Accessed 19 August 2010.
Before the Prague Congress, she was invited by her friend Dr. Alexander Gurshtein36 to work for
Professor Lipsky at the Sternberg State Astronomical Institute, and later on at the Institute of
Space Research, Soviet Academy of Sciences. These were the steps that formed her scientific
life.37 This was an opportunity of a lifetime, just two years before Tereshkova would take her
momentous flight into space. Shingareva’s knowledge of German and English propelled her into
international circles and gave her the necessary freedom to build ties with non-Soviet (and non-
Russian) colleagues.
She quickly rose through the ranks and in the end became Principal Scientist at the
Planetary Cartography Laboratory and the Laboratory of Comparative Planetology at the Institute
of Space Researches at the Academy of Science. She became one of the most eminent
cartographers of extra-terrestrial bodies and was among the first people to succeed in mapping the
Far Side of the Moon. She headed the Commission on Planetary Cartography of the International
Cartographic Association.
Years later, a United States colleague sent her a map with a small crater named AKira@
in recognition of her remarkable achievements. She had that map on her wall when I interviewed
her in 2000. All of her grandchildren know about the AKira crater.@ In recognition of her
contributions, Asteroid 294595 in the main-belt now carries her name. Her work, however,
36 Dr. Gurshtein was on the staff of the Principal Designer of Soviet cosmonautics, Sergei P.
Korolev, who created the first Soviet sputnik and the first lunar spaceships. In Russian, korolof
means “king,” and the group working with him called themselves “the Royal Astronomers.”
(Phone call from Alexander Gurshtein to Will C. van den Hoonaard, 30 April 2015). Gurshtein
supervised Shingareva’s Candidate of Science and promoted her Doctor of Science dissertation
(which she obtained in 1992).
37 Email from Alexander Gurshtein, 29 April 2915, to Will C. van den Hoonaard.
became a fresh starting point of restructuring the system of planetary nomenclature which found
its way into the 12- year reworking of the Atlas of Terrestrial Planets and their Moons.
She fondly recounts the story of the 95-year-old American astrophysicist, Charles Greeley
Abbot (1872-1973), the Fifth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Prof. Lipsky had proposed
his name for a lunar feature. In that time in the Soviet Union they had no news from Maryland
where Charles Greely Abbot died at age 101. However, Professor Lipsky, also an astrophysicist,
knew the Abbot=s scientific work and wanted to perpetuate his memory as an outstanding
scientist. To Lipsky=s surprise, however, Abbot sent a letter to Lipsky, saying, in effect, that he
was very much alive! After that Sternberg Institute under the guidance of Lipsky prepared more
than ten editions of the different lunar maps preserving the name of AC. Abbot.@ This name was
adopted by the International Astronomical Union in 1973.38
With more than 150 publications to her name, including Atlas of Terrestrial Planets and
their Moons and Space Activity in Russia
Background, Current State, Perspectives,39
Shingareva was appointed as co-chairman of ICA Planetary Cartography Working Group, 1995-
1999, Chair of the ICA Planetary Cartography Commission, 1999-2003, and, according to the
Proceedings of the International Cartographic Conference, Amanaged such projects as a series
of multilingual maps of planets and their moons, glossary on planetary cartography, and
38 US Geological Survey, Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature (International Astronomical
Union, Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN), 2003).
39 Irina P. Karachevtseva, Kira B. Shingareva, and Elena V. Cherepanova,. “>Geostatistical
analysis of the planetary nomenclature database as a method of extraterrestrial territories mental
exploration.” 2003 Retrieved from
%20planetary%2 Accessed 28 January 2011.
specialized map-oriented DB on planetary cartography in the frames of commission activity.@40
On the initiative of the Moscow State University for Geodesy and Cartography (MIIGAiK),
several groups in Europe involving Shingareva were working on a Multilingual Planetary Map
More recently until her death in 2013, Shingareva was trying to bring her graduate
students to more earth-bound projects such as bringing her experience to bear, in 2006, on finding
solutions related to the Moscow Megacity Road and Transport Complex.42
Shingareva was well recognized internationally. She was elected Honorary Fellow of the
International Cartographic Association.43 She told me that her main regret was her not being 10-
15 years younger so that she could have experienced Perestroika.
The photos from the Far Side led astronomers to bring standardized rules to naming lunar
and stellar features..44 From 1959 on, according to Hargitai,45 ASoviet scientists had the exclusive
right to name newly observed features of the far side of the Moon, which resulted in a
predominance of Soviet names.@ There are 7.5 million terrestrial place names, some 8,700
40 Karachevtseva et al., “>Geostatistical analysis of the planetary nomenclature database.”
41 Henrik I. Hargitai, “Planetary Maps: Visualization and Nomenclature,” Cartographica, 41 (2)
(2004), p. 150.
42 Anna Sinitsyna and Kira Shingareva, “Megacity Transport,” Geo: Connexion (1 Dec. 2006).
Retrieved from Accessed 10 Dec. 2010.
43 Henrik I. Hargitai, “In Memoriam—Kira B. Shingareva,” Planetary Cartography Newsletter
of the ICA Commission on Planetary Cartography (17 Sept. 2013), p. 1.
44 Whitaker, Mapping and Naming the Moon, p. 173; It also useful to consult the work of V.
Shevchenko, F. El-Baz, L. Gaddis, H. Hiesinger, Yu. Shkuratov, E. Whitaker, L. Wilson, and
J. Blue of the IAU/WGPSN Lunar Task Group and the Status of Lunar Nomenclature, 40th
Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (2009). 2016.pdf.
45 Hargitai, Planetary Maps, p. 158.
undersea place names, and 7,000 names features on the surfaces of other planets,46 of which 12%
are of Greek origin, 7% of Latin/Roman, 5% of British/English, 4% of Russian, 4% of American,
3.5% of French, and 2.5% of Norse origin. The remaining 62% is taken from 280 past and
present nations, cultures, and countries whose numbers are constantly growing.47 Ewen A.
Whitaker (1999) offers a detailed history of lunar cartography.
International Astronomical Union (IAU) is the organization in charge of the nomenclature
for celestial objects48 provides an interesting and useful discussion about the naming of heavenly
objects, both in the past and in the present). There is a crater named after Michael Jackson Over
the years, IAU has developed both formal and informal guidelines about celestial nomenclatures.
There is a preference for using names of permanent renown and the naming process should not be
a hurried one; it should start with numbers before moving on to decide on naming them. It was a
long standing tradition that no heavenly body be named after someone who still alive. However, a
first name was used, without the last name if the person was still alive. The names of features
themselves would be in Latin.
Today, the International Astronomical Union officially recognizes over 9,000 named lunar
features. Every letter of the alphabet is included, with crater names from Abbe to Zwicky.
Diameters are mapped to a hundredth of a kilometer. Spacecraft have scanned the surface in
exquisite detail, sending home images sharp enough to see 45-year-old footprints left by Apollo
46 Hargitai, Planetary Maps, p. 149.
47 Hargitai, Planetary Maps, p. 159.
48 Hargitai, Planetary Maps
With respect to the Moon, one should ask how many craters are there on the Moon.
Without any empirical reference points, it would be too easy to underestimate the complexity of
nomenclature in selenography. Using the findings of Caleb Fassett and Seth Kadish, a blogger,
found that there are 5185 craters when counting them at least 20 km wide. When taking into
account craters that are at least 1 km wide, there are 181,000 craters on the Moon. Still others
claim some 1.3 million craters.50
Sixty-eight craters on the Moon=s Near Side carry female names, out of all 254 named
craters, i.e. ca 26 %).51 Of that number, 40 craters have common female names. The most recent
additions were made in 1988 to honour the seven astronauts who perished in the Challenger
disaster of 1986, including the two women, Christa McAuliffe and Judy Resnick, and the first
Black astronaut Ronald McNair of South Carolina who was also a top-level scientist and member
of the Bahá=í Community. The remaining 28 craters honour women who have made significant
contributions to humanity, many in the area of astronomy.
Two examples of women=s creating cartographies of the Moon hardly constitute
a sufficient demonstration or example of the participation of women in exploration. What is
more, both women featured in this article offer contrasting images. Mary Blagg started her
ground-breaking work at the age of 49; Shingareva at 27. The immediate context of Blagg=s
50 AstroStu. 2012. .
Retrieved 26 Jan. 2015.
51 “A List of People with Craters of the Moon Named After Them.” (2015).
work was related to a small circle of scholars; the context of Shingareva=s work was forcefully
connected to the wider cultural and political spheres of her country which reinforced and
strengthened her contributions. Blagg performed her work at the Oxford Observatory without
pay; Shingareva was recognized worldwide and compensated with a university position and
received accolades for her contributions to planetary cartography. Only with the passage of time
can one know whether such differences can be attributed to the two different epochs the two
women lived in, or whether we can attribute them to the styles of scholarship and research that
stimulated each of the two women.
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Planetary Nomenclatures: A Representation of Human Culture and Alien Landscapes
  • Hargitai H.I.
  • Shingareva K.