Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Moon: Endymion

Oblique Lunar Orbiter 4 image facing west
James Stuby based on NASA image via Commons
Endymion Crater
Endymion is a lunar crater that lies near the northeast limb of the Moon. It is located to the east of Mare Frigoris, and north of the Lacus Temporis. To the southwest is the somewhat smaller crater Atlas. Because of its location, Endymion has an oval appearance from foreshortening. Beyond the crater along the lunar limb is the Mare Humboldtianum.

The floor of Endymion has been covered in low-albedo lava that gives it a dark appearance and makes it relatively easy to locate. The floor is nearly smooth and featureless, with only a few tiny craterlets located within the rim. A string of three lie near the northwestern inner wall. Faint streaks of ray material from Thales to the north-northwest crosses the dark floor. The outer rampart is low, wide, and worn from impact erosion.

"Girodet - Sommeil Endymion" by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson
User:Jastrow. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

The face of the Old Man Moon is marked with craters many of which have been named after Greek and Roman astronomers that have contributed to the study of the space. The name Endymion is an exception as it does not refer to any ancient astronomer but rather to a purely mythological figure.
In Greek mythology, Endymion (Greek: Ἐνδυμίων, gen.: Ἐνδυμίωνος), was variously a handsome Aeolian shepherd, hunter, or king who was said to rule and live at Olympia in Elis, and he was also venerated and said to reside on Mount Latmus in Caria, on the west coast of Asia Minor.
So why on Earth was the name of a purely mythological figure given to a crater located in Mare Frigoris? Well, for a good reason: Endymion was loved by Selene, the Titan goddess of the moon. He was said to be the first human to observe the movements of the moon. Alghough ancient Greeks called him first a shepherd later, by the time of Pliny the Elder (AD 23 - 79), he was also known as an astronomer (Pliny, Naturalis Historia Book II.IV.43.)

The Myth
Apollonius of Rhodes (first half of 3rd century BC) is one of the many poets who tell how Selene, the Titan goddess of the moon, loved the mortal. She believed him to be so beautiful that she asked Endymion's father, Zeus, to grant him eternal youth so that he would never leave her.

Alternatively, Selene so loved how Endymion looked when he was asleep in the cave on Mount Latmus, near Miletus in Caria, that she entreated Zeus that he might remain that way.

In either case, Zeus granted her wish and put him into an eternal sleep. Every night, Selene visited him where he slept. Selene and Endymion had fifty daughters who are equated by some scholars with the fifty months of the Olympiad.

According to a passage in Deipnosophistae, the sophist and dithyrambic poet Licymnius of Chios tells a different tale, in which Hypnos, the god of sleep, in awe of his beauty, causes him to sleep with his eyes open, so he can fully admire his face.
Moon craters are not only history of science. Beautiful Selene on the night sky has inspired beautiful stories of love and great art among humanity through the ages!

Excerpts from Wiki texts have been incorporated into the blog as kinds of abstracts for reader's convenience. By clicking the links much more can be learned about these subjects.

No comments:

Post a Comment