Charles “Chick†Capen photographing Mars through the 24-inch Clark refractor at Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona.

S&T: Dennis Milon

A 43.5 mile (70 kilometer) crater on Mars has been officially named in honor of astronomer Charles F. “Chick” Capen.

Capen (1926–1986) was a powerhouse in the study of Mars, becoming an apprentice to professor Clyde W. Tombaugh while attending New Mexico State University, and worked closely with him in the 1950’s performing a photographic search for small, natural, Earth orbiting satellites. As resident astronomer for JPL’s Table Mountain Observatory in Southern California, his research contributed to both the Mariner and Viking spacecraft missions to Mars.

Though a professional astronomer, Capen was a strong proponent for pro-am collaboration, particularly focusing on solar system studies. While working at the Planetary Research Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, Chick became the director of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO) Mars section. He was also a pioneer in color film astrophotography and frequent contributor to many professional and amateur publications, including Sky & Telescope.

Crater Capen is located at 6.57 North, 345.73 West in Arabia, about 10° north of Schiaparelli.


Image of rosey gillespie

rosey gillespie

February 16, 2008 at 4:19 am

Dear Sirs,

Your article is informative, clear and insiring in some way. I am new to viewing Sky and Telescope on the internet although I used to subscribe to it a long tiome ago. I am passionately interested in everthihng viewable on Mars amd this artocle seems to be the right introduction for me. Thank you.


Rosey G. in Rome, Italy

You must be logged in to post a comment.

You must be logged in to post a comment.