Sunday 16 September 2012

Enwonwu immortalised on planet Mercury

By Tajudeen Sowole
THE revered art of Late Ben Enwonwu (
1921–1994) at the global pedestal has been confirmed with the recent listing of the artist among the new names as craters on Mercury.

According to the International Astronomical Union, IAU, a proposal from one of its units, Messenger Science Team, was recently approved to name 15 craters on Mercury. All of the newly named craters were imaged during the mission's first flyby of the solar system's innermost planet in January 2008. The confirmation and announcement did not however come until late November 2008. The IAU has been the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919.
Some of the craters on Mercury
IAU stated that a Mercury crater to be known as The Enwonwu has been named "after sculptor and painter Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu, the most renowned Nigerian artist of the 20th century."

This it added is "in keeping with the established naming theme for craters on Mercury, all of the craters are named after famous deceased artists, musicians, or authors."

The statement explained the crust of naming people after the craters thus: "Having names for many of the prominent craters will help us to remember and discuss specific locations in this previously ‘undiscovered country."

Joining Enwonwu on the new list of new Mercury craters are other artists and performance artists across the world.  They include Amaral, after Tarsila do Amaral of Brazil, considered one of the leading Latin American modernists; Dali, after Salvador Dali, a Spanish painter and leader of the Surrealist Movement.

Craters of African origins that made the first list of craters much earlier included Sierra Leonean writer, Africanus Horton; Ahmad Baba al Massufi, a Sudanese writer of Medieval age.

Others are Glinka, after Mikhail Glinka, a Russian composer considered to be the "father" of genuinely Russian music; Hovnatanian, after Hakop Hovnatanian, an Armenian painter known for his portraits; Beckett, after Clarice Beckett, recognized as one of Australia's most important modernist artists. Also included are Moody, after Ronald Moody, a self-taught, Jamaica-born sculptor and painter who found success in mid-20th-century London and Paris; Munch, after Edvard Munch, a Norwegian Symbolist painter, printmaker, and draftsman, perhaps most well-known for his painting The Scream.

Navoi, after Alisher Navoi, a 15th century Uzbek poet, considered by many to be the founder of early Turkic literature; Nawahi, after Joseph Nawahi, a self-taught artist, lawyer, educator, publisher, member of the Hawaiian legislature for many years, and principal adviser to Hawaii's Queen Lili'uokalani. Oskison, after John Milton Oskison, a Cherokee author who served as editor and editorial writer for the New York Evening Post and Poe, after Edgar Allan Poe, American poet, critic, editor, and author, best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre.

Qi Baishi, after Qi Baishi, a renowned Chinese painter known for his whimsical water colors;  Raden Saleh, after Raden Saleh, a 19th century Javanese naturalist painter considered to be the first modern artist from what is now Indonesia and Sher-Gil, after Amrita Sher-Gil, an eminent Indian painter, today considered an important female painter of 20th-century India made the list as well.
Ben Enwonwu, in 1956 working on the life size bronze sculpture of Queen Elizabeth
Representative of Messenger and Principal Investigator, Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington was quoted as saying hat "We're pleased that the IAU has again acted promptly to approve this new set of names for prominent craters on Mercury. These latest names honor a diverse suite of some of the most accomplished contributors to mankind's higher aspirations. They also make it much easier for planetary scientists to refer to major features on Mercury in talks and publications."

The addition of these craters, along with the 12 features named in April, brings the total to 27 newly named surface features for Mercury in 2008. In September 2009, The Messengers, it was learnt, will complete a third and final flyby of Mercury before becoming the first spacecraft to orbit the planet, beginning in March 2011.
 (First published in 2009)

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