Happy Kwanzaa from NASA – and Ceres!

Kwanzaa Tholus
The feature on Ceres known as Kwanzaa Tholus is at the center of each of these pictures from NASA’s Dawn probe. The color-coded elevation map at right highlights the feature as a reddish, crescent-shaped swath. (NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA)

Kwanzaa may be an African-American festival on Earth, but it’s also a cute little mountain on the dwarf planet Ceres – and there’s a reason for that connection to the season.

Today NASA is highlighting the Cerean geological feature known as Kwanzaa Tholus, in honor of the African-themed harvest celebration that runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. “Kwanzaa” comes from the Swahili phrase for “first fruits,” and it’s marked by candle-lighting and gift-giving over the course of seven days.

The other part of the name, “Tholus,” is a traditional designation in planetary geology for small mountains and hills, passed down from the ancient Greek and Latin languages.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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