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John Lennon gets his own Mercury impact crater

John Lennon's name is now part of a heavenly body, with the pop-rocker joining some esteemed company on Mercury's surface.

Lennon crater on Mercury
The Lennon crater doesn't really look like him.
NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab/Carnegie Institution

The words "Mercury" and "crater" don't appear in the Beatles lyrics catalog anywhere, but they now belong as part of the band's history. The International Astronomical Union has named a Mercury impact crater after John Lennon.

Lennon isn't the only musician on Mercury, but he's in good company. There are craters named for Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Puccini, and Aaron Copland. Lennon seems to be the only rocker among the planet's rocks. In case you were wondering, Keith Richards doesn't qualify yet to have a crater named after him. You have to be deceased first.

The Lennon naming comes along with nine other crater names, including tributes to Barney (writer Natalie Clifford Barney, not the purple dinosaur creature), Calder (for sculptor Alexander Calder), and Capote (for writer Truman Capote). These join the 114 other craters named since NASA's Mercury-investigating Messenger spacecraft made its first flyby in January 2008.

So, what's with naming all these Mercury craters after musicians, writers, painters, and artists?

"After a while, identifying craters by their latitude and longitude becomes laborious," explained David Blewett, a scientist working on NASA's Messenger spacecraft, in a release. "Assigning names to the craters makes it easier for scientists to communicate about them, share notes and observations."