In his eloquent plea for a more appropriate name for the AGU Solar-Planetary Relationships Section (“SPR: The Right Name?” Eos, August 1, p. 747), Bruce T. Tsurutani, SPR President-Elect, suggests that “aeronomy” might have a place in the name but for two objections: One, it is not acceptable to some aeronomers and, two, it has not been adopted by dictionaries. Regarding the first objection, I have nothing to offer: As Bernard Shaw's Devil points out in Man and Superman, “There is no accounting for tastes.” As for the dictionaries, there isn't a problem, as I shall show.

Tsurutani is essentially correct and certainly quotes conventional wisdom when he notes that “aeronomy” was coined by Sydney Chapman. However, Chapman's wife Katharine was a classics scholar and must be regarded as an “unindicted co-conspirator” for introducing “ aeronomy” as well as for extending in 1950 the then current terminology for atmospheric regions (troposphere, tropopause, and stratosphere) to all heights. Chapman (or the Chapmans) defined aeronomy (which literally, from the Greek, is the science of air) as “the science of that part of the upper atmosphere where dissociation and ionization are important.”