Lovecraft’s Crater on Mercury

Before we move into the tour of the Lovecraftian solar system, I did want to briefly talk about a presentation that was given at last year’s NecronomiCon in Providence Rhode Island (August 22-25).  First, the conference was overseen and essentially the “child” of Niels Hobbs, Arch-Director, Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council, who was the host of the event.  I was fortunate to attend the conference and Niels did an absolutely incredible job; one of the best conferences I have ever been to and there are plans for another conference in 2015.  If you can, I highly recommend you plan to attend.  Please check out the Facebook page for the NecronomiCon Providence for more information as it becomes available.

In addition to attending the 2013 conference I was also fortunate enough to actually give a presentation on the biology of Lovecraftian entities.  Niels was planning to give a talk on similar subject matter but unfortunately his duties as host for the conference prevented him from giving such a talk.  Fortunately for me, Niels gave me the opportunity to give my talk and this blog site is the direct “offspring” of that talk.  For allowing me to talk at the 2013 conference and giving me the inspiration to start this site I profusely thank Niels! With that said, there were a number of other great talks on all things Lovecraftian at the conference.  One such talk was given by Rachel Klima who obtained her Ph.D. at Brown University and is currently a planetary geologist.  Her talk was about how she led the effort to name a crater in the south pole of Mercury after H.P. Lovecraft!

Images showing both the Lovecraft and Roerich Craters, located near Mercury’s south pole.  (Image from hermeology.blogspot.com; image credit: NASA/John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington)

As shown and described above, the Lovecraft Crater is the smaller of the two, however, that crater is permanently shrouded in darkness and contains radar-bright material.  Similar material has been identified at the north pole and is typically associated with water ice and unusually dark material.  Is there something lucking in the darkness of Lovecraft’s Crater?

The other, larger, brighter crater, just to the north of the Lovecraft Crater is the Roerich Crater.  Roerich was a Russian painter and artist whose work inspired Lovecraft in some of his writings, particularly in At the Mountains of Madness.  While living in New York HPL visited the Nicholas Roerich Museum and commented how his painting of the Himalayas were “spectacularly cosmic both in their suggestions of the vast bulk of the mountains and in the vivid and distinctive colours used” (I Am Providence:  The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft by S. T. Joshi; 2013).  indeed, looking at the piece of artwork shown below, it is understandable how Roerich’s work would have had an impact on HPL’s imagination while thinking of At the Mountains of Madness.  Thus, it is only fitting that the Lovecraft and Roerich craters be next to each other.

 Nicholas Roerich’s painting Tibet, Himalayas (1933; http://www.roeich.org)

On 26 March 2013, the NASA MESSENGER (the robotic spacecraft that began orbiting Mercury on 18 March 2011) Science Team was approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to name nine craters on Mercury for a variety of renowned artists, musicians and authors and one of those was H.P. Lovecraft.  At the August 2013 NecronomiCon Dr. Rachel Klima gave a wonderful and informative presentation on the Lovecraft crater and on Mercury in general.  I’m sure HPL would have been pleasantly surprised, stunned, appreciative and a little embarrassed that such a unique and strange part of our solar system was named after him.

Next time we will focus on the planet Mercury itself, what HPL knew about it and how he incorporated it into his stories.  Thank you – Fred.

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5 thoughts on “Lovecraft’s Crater on Mercury

    1. Hey Miguel – good point! I know Roerich’s art had a direct impact on HPL and in the development of At the Mountains of Madness. However, you are correct about the Tibet, Himalaya piece. Other earlier work such as Bridge of Glory, Snowy Ascent, “Remember”, Drops of Life, or Backdrop may have stimulated HPL’s imagination. Thank you for bringing that to my attention! Fred

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