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Lunar locations now in Mandarin

September 15, 2010

With the Chinese moon cake festival or Mid-Autumn Festival just round the corner, the significance of the moon this time of year seems to affect us all. A full moon night, celebrated on the 15th of the 8th lunar month, the mid-autumn festival is one of China’s traditional festivals commemorating amongst many legends when Chang Er flew to the moon, where she has lived ever since.

Bringing to the fore the mighty significance of the moon both in Chinese mythology and modern day, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs recently published the official Chinese names for 468 places on the earth’s moon. The Chinese names are meant to eliminate confusion and help the nation’s lunar exploration efforts, according to Chinese media reports.

All in all, the International Astronomical Union has given names to more than 9,000 places on the moon. However these names are in English and cause confusion to Chinese astronomers trying to plot lunar locations. According to the ministry, the 468 places that were named, are just a start, more will be published at a later date.

All names will be given following the technical regulations for the naming of places on the moon in Chinese, as drafted by the Ministry of Civil Affairs. An official from the Ministry of Civil Affairs said that some principles have been followed basically when determining the translated names. First, the original habitual translation names have been maintained under the principle of “established by usage.” Second, standardization is implemented according to China’s technical specifications. Third, opinions of experts in related fields have been solicited and absorbed.

China’s lunar expeditions are ambitious. Being one of the few countries to have successfully completed a lunar landing when the country’s first lunar probe, Chang’e-1, named after China’s mythical Moon Goddess, ended its 16-month mission on March 1, 2009, by crashing into the moon’s surface. China is now planning for its second probe the Chang’e-2 which will fly much faster than its predecessor and reach lunar orbit within a shorter period of time, it will also orbit 100 km closer to the moon and carry a higher resolution camera.


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