Ceres mountains and craters named for food

Crop deities and harvest celebrations provide inspiration for dwarf planet's monikers

Ceres map

COVERED WITH CROPS  This false-color map of Ceres obtained by the Dawn spacecraft highlights the dwarf planet’s newly named features and its changing mineral composition. Red marks places that strongly reflect infrared light whereas blue regions reflect shorter wavelengths.


Tubers, maize and even eggplants are finally getting the astronomical recognition they deserve. Or at least that’s true for the deities that look after the crops and celebrations of their harvest. Fifteen craters and mountains on the dwarf planet Ceres were officially named on September 21 after various spirits and celebrations of things that grow, befitting a world named after the Roman goddess of agriculture.

The International Astronomical Union officially recognizes a crater in the north as Takel, a Malaysian goddess of tubers. The Mayan god Ghanan now watches over not just maize but a crater near Ceres’ north pole. And an Albanian festival that marks the first day of the eggplant harvest marks the mountain Ysolo Mons.

Given the lack of liquid water on the airless Ceres, gathering an assortment of divine beings is probably the only way to get anything to grow there. 

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

More Stories from Science News on Planetary Science