Maui News

Crater on Mercury Named After Late Gabby Pahinui

April 5, 2013, 8:02 AM HST
* Updated April 6, 6:37 AM
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Gabby Pahinui

The late Hawaiian musician Gabby Pahinui. File photo from National Geographic.com.

By Rodney S. Yap

The International Astronomical Union has named a crater on the planet of Mercury after the late Hawaiian musician Gabby Pahinui.

The decision was made last week by the IAU, a group in charge of planetary and satellite classifications, at the recommendation of a former Hawaii resident now working on the NASA Messenger spacecraft mission.

“I wanted to honor the place where I grew up and still call home even after many years away,” said Ray Espiritu, who submitted Pahinui’s name, according to an April 4 report in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Pahinui, who died in 1980 at the age of 59, was a singer and composer considered one of the most influential slack-key guitar players in the world.

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The NASA citation says his music was a key part of the Hawaiian Renaissance, a resurgence of interest in traditional Hawaiian culture during the 1970s.

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All the craters on Mercury, the solar systems smallest and innermost planet, are named for famous, deceased artists, musicians, authors or other contributors to the humanities, the Star-Advertiser story said.

Eight others were named along with the Pahinui Crater, including L’Engle Crater, for Madeleine L’Engle, author of “A Wrinkle in Time,” and Lovecraft Crater, for American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft.

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