RP-1097: NASA Catalogue of Lunar Nomenclature

(glossary entry)


This book, produced by Leif E. Andersson and Ewen A. Whitaker, and formally titled NASA Catalogue of Lunar Nomenclature, was published in October, 1982. According to its own description it is “the complete NASA-approved lunar nomenclature as of mid-1981". It consists of a historical introduction, followed by tabular listings of 8,497 craters and many additional features in various categories. For craters, the positions are given to the nearest 0.1 degree and the diameter to the nearest 1 km. For most of the remaining features the position is given to 1 degree along with a size. Landing Site Names and Minor Features are listing only by name and the map or Apollo mission with which they are associated. This book is the first published record of Whitaker’s system of Lettered Craters for the Moon’s farside, and is the source of all lettered crater designations in the IAU Planetary Gazetteer.

Additional Information

  • Judging from the Introduction, it appears that RP-1097 was prepared largely as a protest by the staff of the Lunar and Planetary Lab against the IAU’s 1973 decision to stop maintaining an official database of lettered craters. But RP-1097is not simply a record of the IAU nomenclature as it stood in 1973 -- something that is probably better represented (at least for the nearside) by the earlier NASA SP-241. In the decade separating those works, the LPL chose (presumably without IAU approval) to extensively re-arrange the names: dropping or re-naming many of the lettered craters that had been plotted on the System of Lunar Craters maps (especially those with double-letter designations), assigning some to parent craters different from the ones indicated on those maps, as well as adding Whitaker's system of farside letters (which had never been sanctioned by the IAU). Ironically, when the IAU decided in 2006 to re-instate the lettered craters (calling them ‘Satellite Features’), the work chosen as the basis was not the former IAU catalog, but rather (with light editing) Harvard-Smithsonian astronomer Jonathan McDowell’s painstaking electronic transcription of RP-1097 (the original computer files presumably having been lost). - JimMosher JimMosher
  • RP-1097 includes a Section 1(g): Replacement Names (post-1972). This seems to be a list of replacements of lettered names by new unlettered names that were approved by the IAU in connection with the maps being prepared for NASA by the DMA from about 1972-1982. Whitaker gives as Appendix U (p. 236) of his 1999 book a list of "Additions to NASA Catalogue of Lunar Nomenclature, RP 1097". This is a similar list of new names replacing lettered crater names as approved by the IAU at its 1985-1994 meetings. Note that a number of formerly lettered craters have been given new names both before and after these dates. A few of the earlier changes can be found listed at the end of NASA SP-241. - JimMosher JimMosher

LPOD Articles


  • Andersson, Leif E., and Ewen A. Whitaker. 1982. NASA catalogue of lunar nomenclature. NASA reference publication, 1097. Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Scientific and Technical Information Branch.
  • Jonathan McDowell’s scan of RP-1097 can be found on his website. The PDF file (8.2 MB) is here
  • RP-1097 is also available from the NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) with their PDF version here.

This page has been edited 9 times. The last modification was made by - JimMosher JimMosher on Dec 13, 2010 1:17 pm - mgx1