Possibly the coolest astronomy name ever

Due to the fact that the American Geophysical Union is having a conference in San Francisco right now, at which NASA/ESA-associated scientists are making presentations on their Cassini research, the science world is a-twitter with posts and articles about one topic in particular: the hydrocarbon lakes and seas of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

If you didn’t know that Titan has huge seas of liquid methane at its north pole, you can read an overview here. They were discovered by Cassini in 2007.

Now, I’ve known about the liquid features on Titan for some time. But somehow, and I don’t know how, but somehow I managed to miss the part where the largest of these — which is the size of the Caspian Sea — was given the coolest name ever bestowed on an extraterrestrial object. They called it…Kraken.

Yes, Kraken! After the infamous sea monster, star of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and innumerable woodcut illustrations and paintings, like this one from 1801.

Heck, there’s even a rum called Kraken, which — because how could it not — happens to have the best label of any rum brand, not to mention the great ad line, “Put a beast in your belly.”

And now there’s Kraken Mare, the largest of Titan’s methane seas! So incredibly cool. Of course I am incapable of learning this without immediately thinking of the one minute and thirty seconds that were actually worth watching in the otherwise execrable film, Clash of the Titans.

Release the Kraken!


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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