Freelance writer Rebecca Ritzel penned an intriguing piece for The Washington Post about a number of ballet dancers who found careers in the sciences. One in particular, Brett Denevi, who attended classes at Ballet Arts Minnesota in Minneapolis with ABT's Simone Messmer, eventually landed at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory where she analyzes images of the planet Mercury that are transmitted back to Earth from NASA's spacecraft Messenger. Ritzel writes:
According to International Astronomical Union rules, all craters on Mercury must be named after famous figures in the arts who were famous at least half a century ago, and dead for at least three years. Yet as of 2010, not a single crater, out of hundreds, had been named in honor of a dancer or choreographer. Denevi did something about that. There are now planetary pockmarks named after Alvin Ailey, George Balanchine, Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev and Marius Petipa. The Balanchine is her favorite, so named because the blue rays extending from the crater reminded her of the long, blue tutus in his classic ballet, “Serenade.”
Finding all of this fascinating, Haglund went digging for more information and found that Craters Ailey, Balanchine, Fonteyn, Nureyev, and Petipa received their names on April 24, 2012, according to the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature which lists 15,081 planetary names (and takes a long time for the browser to open).
After a little more searching – voilà! This picture of Balanchine was acquired by NASA on June 15, 2012. Pretty interesting, huh? As Ms. Denevi noted, some of those blue rays reflecting off the crater might remind one of the costumes in Serenade.
Click on the image to enlarge and clariy.
Here is NASA's photo of the dazzling Petipa: