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Moon Crater Named After Shah Rukh Khan

PTI 25 Jan 2010, 9:15:09 AM IST
PTI

The International Lunar Geographic Society, a New York-based organization devoted to the study of the moon, has declared that a lunar crater in the moon's Sea of Tranquillity has been christened after Shah Rukh Khan, says a Times of India report. 

This has been approved by the International Astronomical Union, which has a final say with regard to the naming of craters on the moon. The crater ``has been given the honorary designation as the Crater S R Khan on the occasion of Khan's 44th birthday'' on November 2, 2009, the society said. 

According to the society, the crater was named following a deluge of petitions from Shah Rukh's admirers from India and around the world. Incidentally, one of his dedicated admirers has already presented him with a piece of the moon by buying him land there. 

With a crater named after him, Shah Rukh now joins the ranks of eminent personalities like Nobel laureate C V Raman, father of the Indian space programme Vikram Sarabhai, father of the Indian nuclear programme Homi Bhabha and other luminaries like Meghnad Saha after whom craters have been named. 

The decision has triggered a mixed response within the scientific community, with the father of the Indian moon mission Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan supporting it, but president of the National Space Society, Suresh Naik, describing it as ``shocking''. In another vein, a young schoolgirl commented, ``I think another crater on the moon should be named after Amitabh Bachchan, since he is also a great actor.'' 

Secretary of the Indian chapter of the Moon Society, Pradeep Mohandas, shared Kasturirangan's view. ``I think it is not a bad idea since it reflects the thinking of the new generation of young Indians,'' he said. 

Kasturirangan told TOI on Sunday from New Delhi that Shah Rukh is extremely popular and a symbol of national pride. 

``I do see a rationale behind this decision. He is a kind of ambassador for India and this reflects the way India views him,'' he said. 

Shah Rukh's link with the space programme goes back to May 2001, when the last man who stood on the surface of the moon, Eugene A Cernan, during a visit to Mumbai invited the actor to Nasa's Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas. The actor sat in a model of the lunar vehicle which was brought over by Cernan. Shah Rukh acted in `Swades', the bulk of which was shot in Nasa's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. 

The S R Khan Crater is part of the Arago crater group, named for Francois Jean Dominique Arago, a Catalan-French mathematician, physicist, astronomer and politician who lived from 1786 to 1853. It is the largest of the main Arago crater's four satellite craters and rests in the Sea of Tranquillity, directly south of the main crater.