Aitken (crater)

Coordinates: 16°48′S 173°24′E / 16.8°S 173.4°E / -16.8; 173.4
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Aitken view by Apollo 17 from 121 km altitude
Coordinates16°48′S 173°24′E / 16.8°S 173.4°E / -16.8; 173.4
Diameter135 km
Depth6 km
Colongitude187° at sunrise
EponymRobert Aitken
Oblique view of Aitken (upper right, on the horizon), from Apollo 11. Aitken A is on the rim of Aitken, Atiken C is at left, and Aitken Y is at right, in front of Aitken.
Oblique view, also from Apollo 17
Lunar Orbiter 2 image of most of Aitken

Aitken /ˈtkɪn/ is a large lunar impact crater that lies on the far side of the Moon, named for Robert Grant Aitken, an American astronomer specializing in binary stellar systems. It is located to the southeast of the crater Heaviside, and north of the unusual formation Van de Graaff. Attached to the southwest rim is Vertregt. To the southeast is the smaller Bergstrand.

The inner wall of Aitken is terraced and varies notably in width with the narrowest portion in the southwest. The crater Aitken  Z lies across the inner north wall. Just to the north of the rim is the small crater Aitken which is surrounded by an ejecta blanket of lighter-albedo material. The interior floor has been resurfaced in the past by a darker lava flow, especially in the southern half. There are also several small crater impacts on the eastern floor, an arcing central ridge line just to the east of the midpoint, and a line of smaller ridges in the western half.

This crater lies along the northern rim of the immense South Pole-Aitken Basin, which was named after this crater, and the southern lunar pole, two extreme points of the Basin.

Aitken was a target of observation on Apollo 17 due to the command module's orbit passing directly over it.[1]

Satellite craters[edit]

By convention, these features are identified on Lunar maps by placing the letter on the side of the crater midpoint that is closest to Aitken.

Aitken Latitude Longitude Diameter
A 14.0° S 173.7° E 13 km
C 14.0° S 175.8° E 74 km
G 16.8° S 174.2° E 7 km
N 17.7° S 172.7° E 7 km
Y 12.0° S 173.2° E 35 km
Z 15.1° S 173.3° E 33 km

See also[edit]


  • Andersson, L. E.; Whitaker, E. A. (1982). NASA Catalogue of Lunar Nomenclature. NASA RP-1097.
  • Blue, Jennifer (July 25, 2007). "Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature". USGS. Retrieved 2007-08-05.
  • Bussey, B.; Spudis, P. (2004). The Clementine Atlas of the Moon. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-81528-4.
  • Cocks, Elijah E.; Cocks, Josiah C. (1995). Who's Who on the Moon: A Biographical Dictionary of Lunar Nomenclature. Tudor Publishers. ISBN 978-0-936389-27-1.
  • McDowell, Jonathan (July 15, 2007). "Lunar Nomenclature". Jonathan's Space Report. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
  • Menzel, D. H.; Minnaert, M.; Levin, B.; Dollfus, A.; Bell, B. (1971). "Report on Lunar Nomenclature by the Working Group of Commission 17 of the IAU". Space Science Reviews. 12 (2): 136–186. Bibcode:1971SSRv...12..136M. doi:10.1007/BF00171763. S2CID 122125855.
  • Moore, Patrick (2001). On the Moon. Sterling Publishing Co. ISBN 978-0-304-35469-6.
  • Price, Fred W. (1988). The Moon Observer's Handbook. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-33500-3.
  • Rükl, Antonín (1990). Atlas of the Moon. Kalmbach Books. ISBN 978-0-913135-17-4.
  • Webb, Rev. T. W. (1962). Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes (6th revised ed.). Dover. ISBN 978-0-486-20917-3.
  • Whitaker, Ewen A. (1999). Mapping and Naming the Moon. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-62248-6.
  • Wlasuk, Peter T. (2000). Observing the Moon. Springer. ISBN 978-1-85233-193-1.

External links[edit]

L&PI topographic maps of Aitken: