Kristine Larsen


Despite the multicultural intent of the IAU’s charge, the serious lack of Eastern representation in the membership of this supposedly international organization has serious repercussions for the naming of Venusian surface features. As this paper will demonstrate, the criteria used in naming eight Venusian features after “Tibetan Buddhist goddesses” is inconsistent and ambiguous at best, and clearly erroneous at worst. The attempt to pigeonhole Tibetan Buddhist iconographic representations of the feminine principle into a Western model fails because of what is posited to be a serious lack of understanding by the WGPSN of Tibetan Buddhist culture and beliefs. It will therefore be argued that the IAU must reconsider the membership of its Nomenclature groups and include representatives from Eastern traditions in order to prevent such problems in the future.

Author Biography

Kristine Larsen, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and Director of the Honors Program, at Central Connecticut State University. Her publications include articles on the history of women in astronomy, astronomy pedagogy, astronomical allusions in the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, and a book-length biography of physicist Stephen Hawking. She is a student of Tibetan Buddhism through the Venerable Geshe Khensur Wangdak, former abbot of Namgyal Monastery.