How to Name Things on Planets — a Poetry + Science Moment

My daughter found this site, nerdy science-loving linguistic anthropologist that she is, and I am appropriating it as a poetry prompt.

Apparently, there are rules for how to name the geographical formations on planets. You can’t just name a mountain on Mars “Louis” or “Happy Martian Mountain.”  You have to use names from this list. And, apparently you can’t even call Martian mountains “mountains,” but something else I can’t figure out.

Dante’s Inferno for Jupiter’s moon Io. Celtic mythology for Jupiter’s moon Europa. Fertility goddesses for Venus. Amazing.

So what’s the poetry prompt possibility? Imagine a place on one of these planets, name it according to the rules, and go from there. Or, just pick ten of the coolest words on this list and use them in a poem. I dare you to write a sestina using dorsa, farra, fluctus, fossae, labrynthi and lineae.

The photo is a computer generated image of a mountain on Venus, called Maat Mons.


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