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Your Chance to Name Pluto’s New Moons

Even though Pluto may have been officially kicked out of the major planet club, the number of moons orbiting the dwarf planet has increased by two in just the last couple of years.  And now astronomers need your help in naming these newly discovered moons.

The naming contest for two of the tiniest satellites, measuring only 15 and 20 miles (20 and 30 km), was launched this week by the discoverers. They spotted the cosmic pair while using the Hubble space telescope to map the space around Pluto in preparation for New Horizon spacecraft’s flyby in 2015. 

The unnamed worldlets- now only known as P4 and P5- are joining the little family of moons that include Charon, Hydra and Nix.  Sitting at the dark and frigid outer reaches of the solar system, all members of this system have names related to the ancient Greek mythological god of the underworld, Hades; which the ancient Romans called Pluto. Charon, the largest moon represents the ferryman of Pluto, while Hydra is a nightmarish monster, and Nix is an evil goddess.

“The Greeks were great storytellers and they have given us a colorful cast of characters to work with,” said Mark Showalter, Senior Research Scientist at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California in a statement.

Because astronomers like to have things categorized and in order, other planetary moon systems also are named by a set of rules. For example the moons of Jupiter are named after the love interests of the Jovian god while those circling Uranus get their names from classical English literature.

Online voting will last two weeks, ending Feb. 25 after which the top suggestions will be handed over to the International Astronomical Union – the governing body that officially names celestial objects.

Twelve choices based on this underworld mythology are already available online at . http://www.plutorocks.com. As of Thursday morning two appear tied for first place – Cerebus and Styx with Persephone coming in a strong second.  However if none of the ones on the current list catch your fancy, then Showalter and his team are open to alternative suggestion.

And that’s exactly how the current third place holder, Vulcan, got on the list – thanks to the suggestion of William Shatner aka Captain James T. Kirk of the Star Trek TV and movie fame. The fictional home planet of Mr. Spock just happens to be not only the god of molten lava in Roman myths, but also appropriately enough the nephew of Pluto.

Fascinating!

Comments

  1. Tiffany
    East Lansing MI
    July 6, 2013, 10:03 pm

    Jinn .. my character in a film I wrote/produced shes a bad ass! and Jada My cousins daughter (he was killed in the middle east )

  2. sarah
    florida
    July 2, 2013, 6:27 pm

    venetia and burney. after the lady who named pluto.

  3. Torres
    Argentina
    July 2, 2013, 5:54 pm

    I would name it: NICOMEDES

  4. Stephen
    Ufa
    May 17, 2013, 2:34 am

    ill name it Girecto

  5. Stephen
    Ufa
    May 17, 2013, 2:34 am

    Triseth

  6. Fall of a Thousand Suns
    May 9, 2013, 2:08 pm

    Minnie Mouse Jr.

  7. fletcher
    morawa wa
    April 4, 2013, 6:48 am

    i would name 1 steven

  8. mary savoy
    saint john n.b
    March 25, 2013, 11:36 am

    I think mickey and minnie becuse of the name pluto being his dog
    mary savoy

  9. Lois Gardner
    Victoria BC Canada
    March 11, 2013, 4:29 pm

    along Michele’s theme, if the names are not copyrighted by Disney, Minnie and Daisy !! both pretty small…

  10. Ralf Steiert
    Germany
    February 20, 2013, 7:29 am

    Max + Moritz

  11. Annette
    Hamburg Germany
    February 20, 2013, 5:10 am

    Lunaplu I
    Lunaplu II

  12. Ramkrishna Debnath
    Kolkata, West Bengal, India, Planet Earth.
    February 20, 2013, 1:41 am

    Bethesda & Porshia.

  13. Andrew Davis
    Maryland
    February 19, 2013, 10:51 am

    Calabos and Persephone

  14. Sirens & Ethos
    February 18, 2013, 2:06 pm

    P5: Sirens
    P4: Ethos

  15. Spock
    February 18, 2013, 2:03 pm

    It’s awesome.

  16. fav
    saskatoon,SK
    February 17, 2013, 12:05 pm

    I think we should name them
    1)Arceus
    &
    2)Cloyster
    or
    Dialga

  17. TV
    Canada
    February 17, 2013, 11:55 am

    Hypnus & Nyx. Following the Greek gods names is kind of interesting

  18. Cat
    Calgary, AB Canda
    February 16, 2013, 6:59 pm

    Dudes, according to Wikipedia, you’ve spelled Nix wrong: It’s Nyx. She isn’t evil, but the goddess of night. Which is highly appropriate.

  19. Chris Schultz
    Quad Cities, IL
    February 16, 2013, 11:38 am

    Bubo…the golden owl forged by vulcan. and OBOL the coin used used to pay charon, the ferryman of the river styx. BUBO & OBOL.

  20. Chris Schultz
    Quad Cities, IL
    February 16, 2013, 11:32 am

    the name has to relate to the gods of the underworld. i say BUBO the golden owl forged by VULCAN. BUBO!

  21. Rich2506
    Horsham, PA
    February 16, 2013, 10:45 am

    Erm, Cerberus was the three-headed dog of Greek and Roman mythology. Cerebus was the aardvark whose comic-book series ran from 1977 to 2004.
    http://www.cerebustheaardvark.com/

  22. zap
    uk
    February 15, 2013, 2:43 pm

    gethin and drone

  23. RJ
    February 15, 2013, 12:07 pm

    Goofy and Scuby Doo…………….

  24. Michele Stanmar
    La Salle, Il
    February 14, 2013, 8:48 pm

    Mickey and Minnie ( what better names than That)

  25. Ellen Curran
    san mateo, ca
    February 14, 2013, 8:20 pm

    How about
    Spot
    Fido

  26. Zak Martin
    Salisbury, New Hampshire, USA
    February 14, 2013, 6:47 pm

    P4 Nico son of Pluto
    P5 Hazel daughter of Pluto