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Poll: What Should We Name Pluto’s New Moon?

Pluto's three known moons plus P4, a new discovery.

As announced earlier this week, scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope have identified a new moon orbiting Pluto. This brings the number of known moons orbiting the dwarf planet to 4. Currently designated “P4” the International Astronomical Union will likely decide on an official name soon…what do you think it should be?

Here’s some of my favorite choices. Following the tradition of keeping with Greek mythology, all are in reference to denizens of the underworld (of which Pluto was in command of….even though that was the Latinized name for Hades.)

PS: I’ve contacted SETI Institute’s Mark Showalter and alert him to this poll…so perhaps your vote will help the decision process!

UPDATE: Since it seems that Persephone, Cerberus and Rhadamanthus have already been taken by asteroids, the best choices on the list are (again, in my opinion) Hypnos and Thanatos. Hypnos was the son of the goddess Nyx (another of Pluto’s moons) and Thanatos was his brother. I am also adding a couple more…Erebus and Phobetor, both also sons of Nyx (busy lady!)

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About Jason Major

Jason is a Rhode Island-based graphic designer, photographer, nature lover, space exploration fanatic, and coffee addict. In no particular order.

Posted on July 22, 2011, in Pluto and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. I’d like to see Ms Patrica Burney Phair, who named Pluto as a young girl get honored in some way as she passed on just a few years ago…a more mythological name might be Alecto, a daughter of Pluto in some tellings of the ancient myths. Another good proposal was made by astronomer Nick Howes (@NickAstronomer on Twitter) of Acheron.

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  2. I think it should be called Firmin, after the modeler of The Clangers who live on and in a sort of rock like this and who have a soup dragon that makes soups for them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clangers

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  3. There are already two asteroids called Cerberus and Rhadamanthus, so I think these names will not be used for “P4”.
    I propose the name Thanatos.
    From the Wikipedia:
    “In Greek mythology, Thanatos was the daemon personification of death. He was a minor figure in Greek mythology, often referred to but rarely appearing in person.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanatos
    This would match the size of the moon and the circumstances of the discovery. 😉
    Thanatos is a brother of Charon.

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    • An interesting idea. Feel free to put it in the “Other” box in the poll above! (BTW we have the eye of Mr. Showalter and SETI on this poll too!)

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  4. I still think we should go with Persephone, if it’s not already taken by another body…

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  5. Sorry to be pedantic about this but Erebos “shadow” and husband to Nyx “night” is Erebos with an “Omega.” Not an “Upsilon”
    Erebus is the ship and the volcano named after the ship and the crater on Mars.

    However I would rename 399 as “Wolf’ (“827 Wolfiana” is hardly a fitting tribute.) and redub Charon as “Persephone.”

    I never did like Charon and “Hydra!” Why Hydra? She might have been chthonic (Typhon and Echidna) but was never primordial like Nyx and ErebOs.
    But who studies the classics these days 😦
    Obviously not the IAU
    Crowdsourcing is the way to go. More democratic!

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    • I doubt they are going to be renaming anything. Hard enough to get them to agree on what even to call something in the first place.

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      • Agreed 🙂
        Keith sums up my feelings pretty well over at NASAWatch:
        “The IAU is so 20th century. Its time to change this process.”

        I thing your poll is brilliant! Let’s hope for a big sample!

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        • Agreed 🙂
          Keith sums up my feelings pretty well over at NASAWatch:
          “The IAU is so 20th century. Its time to change this process.”

          I think your poll is brilliant! Let’s hope for a big sample!

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  6. For me the better name – and I’ve voted for it – is Thanatos.
    Because this’s the name of daemon of dead, the brother of goddess Nyx and around Pluto there isn’t (still !!) a name moon which the first letter is a “T”…
    Jeff Barani from Vence (France)

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  7. I think Tartarus might be a good name.

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  8. Break with tradition. Call it Daffy.

    I’m not joking, I’m serious. We need a name that encourages an increased interest in astronomy by young people. “Daffy” connects with upcoming generations better and is part of the namespace of a “Pluto” that they connect with better.

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    • I see your point but I have to disagree. Some things I think it’s good to keep at a certain standard. Go that route and soon we’ll be naming planets “Justin Bieber” and “Spongebob”. Staying relevant does not have to mean ignoring all references to our past.

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  9. I see your point.

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  10. What about “Proserpina” … as the name is written in Latin?

    Furthermore: If there are more satellites around Pluto, then I suggest the contingency plan to name them: a) Orphnaeus [Orphnæus], b) Aethon [Æþon], c) Nycteus and d) Alastor, … after the dark horses of Pluto.

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  11. I propose “Alecto” (the daughter of Pluto in Virgil’s Aeneid) with a “CT” spelling to pay tribute to Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto.

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  12. Why not call it e.g. Moros (engl.: doom, fate), offspring of Nyx , bother of the Moirae (Fates) ?
    If New Horizon finds some more moons, then they could be names after the Moirae.

    This gives IMO a much better reason than the widely propagated CT in Alecto of the “Moon around a real planet not a dwarf planet” folks. Clyde Tombaugh was, is, and will be the discoverer of Pluto. So there is no real need of a tribute to CT.

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  13. Picked “Sisyphus” for Other. The ethereal madden king destine to struggle forever a ever tumbling boulder in the Underworld and also cleaver mortal who tricked Thanthos thus prevent death and latter and prolong his post-death until his punishment.

    It got that symbolism thing shrouding it for P4. And he a noteworthy inmate of Hades… the next Underworld theme following after deities (Pluto and Nyx), monsters (Hydra), and the ferryman delivering souls (Charron).

    Although I voice don’t comprehend this ‘one time myth naming policy’ beyond confusing people. Does the IAU have a page for this? Why not use previous used names (Persephone and Cerbarus, not keen with these either) on astroids which the solar system is defiantly filled with its share of hundreds if not thousands. But verses a more noteworthy solar body? Its ridicules used whatever great names once.

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  1. Pingback: Here’s Something Else to Vote On: Names for Pluto’s Newest Moons! « Lights in the Dark

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