Ewen Whitaker

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Ewen A. Whitaker
Ewen A. Whitaker.jpg
Born(1922-06-22)22 June 1922
London, England
Died11 October 2016(2016-10-11) (aged 94)
Occupation Astronomer

Ewen Adair Whitaker (22 June 1922 – 11 October 2016) was a British-born astronomer who specialized in lunar studies. [1] During World War II he was engaged in quality control for the lead sheathing of hollow cables strung under the English Channel as part of the "Pipe Line Under The Ocean" Project (PLUTO) to supply gasoline to Allied military vehicles in France. After the war, he obtained a position at the Royal Greenwich Observatory working on the UV spectra of stars, but became interested in lunar studies. As a sideline, Whitaker drew and published the first accurate chart of the South Polar area of the Moon in 1954, and served as director of the Lunar Section of the British Astronomical Association.


After meeting Dr. Gerard P. Kuiper, Director of Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin, USA, at an International Astronomical Union meeting in Dublin in 1955, he was invited to join Kuiper's fledgling Lunar Project at Yerkes to work on producing a high-quality photographic atlas of the Moon. The dawn of the Space Age with the launch of the Russian Sputnik 1 soon put the Lunar Project in NASA's limelight.

In 1960, Whitaker followed Kuiper to the University of Arizona where the small Lunar Project evolved into the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) with over 300 scientists, technicians, and supporting staff. The resulting Photographic Lunar Atlas, Orthographic Atlas of the Moon (giving accurate positions on the lunar surface), and the Rectified Lunar Atlas (giving astronaut-eye views of the whole lunar nearside) proved to be invaluable for the planning and operational stages of later spacecraft missions to the Moon. Whitaker was involved with several NASA missions, including successfully locating the landing site of Surveyor 3. This was used to set the landing site for the Apollo 12 mission whose astronauts visited the Surveyor lander.

Whitaker was considered by some to be the world's leading expert on lunar mapping and nomenclature [ citation needed ]. He was active in the IAU's Task Group for Lunar Nomenclature, and in 1999 he published a book on the history of lunar mapping and nomenclature, titled "Mapping and Naming the Moon."

Whitaker retired from the LPL in 1978, becoming research scientist emeritus. He remained in Tucson, Arizona, until his death on 11 October 2016; [2] [3] his wife, Beryl, had died in 2013. Ewen Whitaker's papers are held at the University of Arizona Special Collections Library. [4]

NASA teams

Other achievements


Over 130 atlases, reports, papers, articles, reviews, chapters for books, letters, etc. A selection of the more important given below.

Other recognition

Sources of above information:-

  1. Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona (Curriculum Vitae and Publications list for E. A. Whitaker)
  2. Who's Who in America" 2010 Edition
  3. The subject himself. The introductory section was completely re-written by Mr. Whitaker, and entered by a friend and temporary house guest of the Whitakers, on 29 May 2010. A few minor updates were added in 2014.


Related Research Articles

Mare Serenitatis Lunar mare

Mare Serenitatis is a lunar mare located to the east of Mare Imbrium on the Moon. Its diameter is 674 km (419 mi).

Alphonsus (crater)

Alphonsus is an ancient impact crater on the Moon that dates from the pre-Nectarian era. It is located on the lunar highlands on the eastern end of Mare Nubium, west of the Imbrian Highlands, and slightly overlaps the crater Ptolemaeus to the north. To the southwest is the smaller Alpetragius.

Daedalus (crater)

Daedalus is a prominent crater located near the center of the far side of the Moon. The inner wall is terraced, and there is a cluster of central peaks on the relatively flat floor. Because of its location, it has been proposed as the site of a future giant radio telescope, which would be scooped out of the crater itself, much like the Arecibo radio telescope, but on a vastly larger scale.

Collins (crater)

Collins is a tiny lunar impact crater located on the southern part of the Mare Tranquillitatis. It is located about 25 kilometers to the north of the Apollo 11 landing site, Tranquility Base. Named after American astronaut Michael Collins, the crater is the central member of the row of three craters named in honor of the Apollo 11 crew members. About 15 kilometers to the west-northwest is the landing site of the Surveyor 5 lunar probe.

Tsiolkovskiy (crater) Lunar impact crater

Tsiolkovskiy is a large lunar impact crater that is located on the far side of the Moon. Named for Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, it lies in the southern hemisphere, to the west of the large crater Gagarin, and northwest of Milne. Just to the south is Waterman, with Neujmin to the south-southwest. The crater protrudes into the neighbouring Fermi, an older crater of comparable size that does not have a lava-flooded floor.

Korolev (lunar crater) Lunar impact crater

Korolev is a large lunar impact crater of the walled plain or basin type. It is named for Soviet rocket engineer Sergei Korolev. It lies on the far side of the Moon, and the northern part of its floor crosses the lunar equator. Notable nearby craters include Galois just to the southeast, Das to the south-southeast, Doppler attached to the southern rim, and Kibal'chich to the northeast. Rays of the crater Crookes cover parts of the basin.

Apollo (crater)

Apollo is an enormous impact crater located in the southern hemisphere on the far side of the Moon. This formation dwarfs the large crater Oppenheimer that is located next to the western rim. The crater Barringer lies across the northern wall. To the southeast is the crater Anders, and Kleymenov is just to the east of the rim.

King (crater) Lunar impact crater

King is a prominent lunar impact crater that is located on the far side of the Moon, and can not be viewed directly from Earth. The crater was named after Arthur Scott King and Edward Skinner King in 1970. Prior to that, this crater was known as Crater 211. It forms a pair with Ibn Firnas, which is only slightly larger and is attached to the northeast rim of King. To the northwest is the crater Lobachevskiy, and Guyot is located an equal distance to the north-northwest.

Von Kármán (lunar crater) Lunar impact crater

Von Kármán is a large lunar impact crater that is located in the southern hemisphere on the far side of the Moon. The crater is about 180 km (110 mi) in diameter and lies within an immense impact crater known as the South Pole–Aitken basin of roughly 2,500 km (1,600 mi) in diameter and 13 km (8.1 mi) deep. Von Kármán is the site of the first soft-landing on the lunar far side by the Chinese Chang'e 4 spacecraft on 3 January 2019.

Beals (crater) Lunar impact crater

Beals is a lunar impact crater that is located near the eastern limb of the Moon, and lies across the southwestern rim of the crater Riemann. From the Earth the crater is viewed nearly from on edge, and is best seen during favorable librations. To the west is the large walled plain Gauss.

Dollond (crater)

Dollond is a small lunar impact crater that is located in the central region of the Moon, to the north of the crater Abulfeda. It was named after British optician John Dollond. Due west of Dollond is Anděl. Dollond is circular and cone shaped, with a tiny floor at the midpoint of the sloping interior walls.

Oppenheimer (crater) Lunar impact crater

Oppenheimer is a large lunar impact crater that lies on the Far side of the Moon. It lies along the western outer rampart of the immense walled plain Apollo. Nearby features of note include the dark-floored crater Maksutov to the southwest, and Davisson to the west-southwest. The latter intrudes into the eastern rim of Leibnitz, a feature about 20% larger than Oppenheimer.

Einthoven (crater)

Einthoven is a lunar impact crater that is located on the far side of the Moon. It is located beyond the region of the surface that is sometimes brought into view due to libration, and so can not be viewed from the Earth. Einthoven is located to the northeast of the huge walled plain Pasteur.

Mons Hadley Mountain on the Moon

Mons Hadley is a massif in the northern portion of the Montes Apenninus, a range in the northern hemisphere of the Moon. It has a height of 4.5 km (2.8 mi) 14,764 ft (4,500 m) above the adjacent plain and a maximum diameter of 25 km at the base.

Fleming (crater) Lunar impact crater

Fleming is a large lunar impact crater that is located on the Moon's far side, and cannot be seen from the Earth. It lies about a crater diameter to the east-northeast of Hertz, and to the northwest of Lobachevskiy.

Planté (crater)

Planté is a lunar crater that is situated near the eastern inner wall of the much larger crater Keeler. Just to the east, attached to the exterior of Keeler, is the large crater Heaviside. Planté is located on the far side of the Moon and cannot be viewed directly from the Earth.

Meitner (lunar crater)

Meitner is an impact crater on the far side of the Moon, behind the eastern limb. It lies to the northwest of the crater Kondratyuk, and about a crater diameter to the west of Langemak.

Maksutov (crater)

Maksutov is a crater on the far side of the Moon. It is located just to the south-southwest of the larger walled plain Oppenheimer. To the southwest lies the crater Nishina, and to the west-northwest is the merged crater pairing of Davisson and Leibnitz.

Topography of the Moon

The topography of the Moon is the mapping of the Moon's surface and the study of its shape. It has been measured by the methods of laser altimetry and stereo image analysis, including data obtained during several missions. The most visible topographic feature is the giant far side South Pole-Aitken basin, which possesses the lowest elevations of the Moon. The highest elevations are found just to the north-east of this basin, and it has been suggested that this area might represent thick ejecta deposits that were emplaced during an oblique South Pole-Aitken basin impact event. Other large impact basins, such as the maria Imbrium, Serenitatis, Crisium, Smythii, and Orientale, also possess regionally low elevations and elevated rims.