Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name



Data Analysis & Visualization


Aucher Serr

Committee Members

Matthew Gold

Jason Nielsen

Subject Categories

Astrophysics and Astronomy | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Folklore | History | Inequality and Stratification | Physical and Environmental Geography


data visualization, mapping, globe, planetary nomenclature


Humans have been observing and romanticizing Venus for more than 5,000 years. However, mapping its surface has nearly always been impossible, since the planet is shrouded in thick clouds. A breakthrough came just fifty years ago with the invention of radar imaging, leading to the discovery (and naming) of hundreds of new features in a relatively short length of time.

The rapid naming of Venus is a case study on the impact of planetary nomenclature — the process of naming features on other worlds. While the act of naming streamlines communication and humanizes alien landscapes, it is subject to bias, and not all of Earth gets equal representation. On Venus, nearly all 1,976 recorded features are named after famous women, female first names, heroines, or goddesses. However, 45% of those names are European in origin — and only 2% come from South America.

My capstone project, Naming Venus — which can be accessed at this link: https://koffeeya.github.io/naming-venus/index.html — is an interactive web application that aims to draw attention to the impact of nomenclature. Visitors can explore and filter features, see where they are located on its surface, and dive deeper into the stories behind the names of Venus.

venus_surface_features.xlsx (300 kB)
Clean data source and definitions used in the project.

get_wiki_data.ipynb (81 kB)
Python notebook used to query Wikipedia for short descriptions of select features.

naming-venus-master.zip (4130 kB)
Zip file containing the contents of the GitHub repository at the time of deposit.