Menelaus (crater)

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Menelaus crater 4090 h2.jpg
Coordinates16°18′N 16°00′E / 16.3°N 16.0°E / 16.3; 16.0Coordinates: 16°18′N 16°00′E / 16.3°N 16.0°E / 16.3; 16.0
Diameter27 km
Depth3.0 km
Colongitude344° at sunrise
EponymMenelaus of Alexandria
Apollo 15 image
Oblique close up of the northwest crater wall, from Apollo 15

Menelaus (/ˌmɛnɪˈləs/) is a young lunar impact crater located on the southern shore of Mare Serenitatis near the eastern end of the Montes Hæmus mountain range. Its diameter is 27 km.[1] To the southwest is the small crater Auwers, and to the west-southwest is the even smaller Daubrée. To the northeast is a faint rille system named the Rimae Menelaus.


The wall of Menelaus is slightly irregular in outline, with a high, sharp rim and terraced inner walls. The interior has a high albedo that is prominent under high sun angles. There are several ridges on the floor. It also has a moderate ray system, with the most prominent ray aligned to the north-northeast across the Mare Serenitatis. The location of this ray and slightly off-center central peak suggest an impact at a relatively low angle.


Menelaus is named after the ancient Greek astronomer Menelaus of Alexandria.[1] Like many of the craters on the Moon's near side, it was given its name by Giovanni Riccioli, whose 1651 nomenclature system has become standardized.[2] Earlier lunar cartographers had given the feature different names. Michael van Langren's 1645 map calls it "Mariae Imp. Rom." after Maria Anna, the Holy Roman Empress.[3] And Johannes Hevelius called it "Byzantium (urbs)" after the city of Byzantium.[4]

Satellite craters[edit]

By convention these features are identified on lunar maps by placing the letter on the side of the crater midpoint that is closest to Menelaus.

Menelaus Latitude Longitude Diameter
A 17.1° N 13.4° E 7 km
C 14.8° N 14.5° E 4 km
D 13.2° N 16.3° E 4 km
E 13.6° N 15.9° E 3 km

The following craters have been renamed by the IAU.

Menelaus A crater (lower right), from Apollo 15


  1. ^ a b "Menelaus (crater)". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. USGS Astrogeology Research Program.
  2. ^ Ewen A. Whitaker, Mapping and Naming the Moon (Cambridge University Press, 1999), p.213.
  3. ^ Ewen A. Whitaker, Mapping and Naming the Moon (Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 198.
  4. ^ Ewen A. Whitaker, Mapping and Naming the Moon (Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 202.

External links[edit]