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Catena (crater chain)

(glossary entry; plural = Catenae)


One of 18 different categories of lunar features recognized in the current system of IAU nomenclature. The IAU defines a catena as a "chain of craters". The term is used as prefix to the feature name. The term was introduced in 1973 to recognize a class of features that had not previously been named as such in the IAU system, although some craters within some of the larger chains did have names. The dimension given for a catena usually refers to the length of the chain.

Additional Information

  • Crater chains on the Moon were at one time thought to be evidence of volcanic activity along lines where subsurface geology gave a propensity for eruptions. Although some small crater chains are still thought to be strings of collapse pits related to volcanic activity, most lunar chains are now thought to mark the impact points of ejecta from larger impacts. A few may mark places where the Moon was struck by an object from space that had broken up prior to impact, similar to the Shoemaker-Levy object which struck Jupiter (see, for example, Hibbs, 1961). - JimMosher


  • Prior to the approval of names for the first set of "catena" in 1976, the only one of the present catenae to have a formal IAU name was Catena Krafft, which had been given the name "Rima Krafft" in the System of Lunar Craters. - JimMosher

Pretentious Latin terms and pompous bureaucrats (bumbledom)

  • This is an example of the type of pretentious and unnecessary nomenclature that the IAU inflicted on lunar studies in the chaotic 1970s. There are many crater chains on the Moon - mostly made up of secondary craters, and a few of the basin secondary chains have catena names. But English is the lingua franca of the scientific world, virtually no one knows Latin, so it makes no sense - except to a pompous bureaucrat on an international committee - to invent new terms that won't be understood. I don't use these new terms, but this wiki includes them as a cross reference. - tychocrater Jun 20, 2007
  • I call it the Rosae Rosae Rosas syndrome (from the Jacques Brel song Rosa). Up here in Belgium (and perhaps also in most of the other European countries?) one should know (and speak) Latin to sound developed, educated, and eloquent (read: scientific). If you know Latin from the classroom ("Do you know your Latin?"), then your future is waiting at you in university or bureaucracy (at some boring dry office, a place to drink coffee and to watch photos of the newborn children of your co-workers). If you don't know Latin, you are just a streetwise delinquent or moron, stuck about halfway the road of development, your only goal is to earn money as a blue collar worker (a labourer, a working class hero). But... when you are an uneducated blue collar worker AND a connoisseur of selenography (or investigator of lunar nomenclature), then you are in real trouble because in society something like this is not normal. - DannyCaes Dec 19, 2015

Lunar Catenae

List of crater chains

LPOD Articles

Little Known Polar Valleys, A Chain of Evidence, I'll Drink to That, Straight Walk