SETI wants your help in naming Pluto’s new moons

Scott Sutherland
February 12, 2013

Even though Pluto was demoted from planet status years ago, it has been distinguishing itself in other ways. It already had three moons — Charon, Nix and Hydra — when it suffered that astronomical indignity, but since then astronomers have discovered another two satellites orbiting it!

These tiny moons, both found using the Hubble Space Telescope, are currently called by their official designations — 'S/2011 (134340) 1' (discovered in 2011) and 'S/2012 (134340) 1' (discovered in 2012). Since those names don't exactly roll off the tongue, the discovery team — led by Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute — took to calling them just 'P4' and 'P5', but even that isn't very satisfying when the other moons have cool names. So, the team is looking to rename them, and they want your help to do it.

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Delving into Greek mythology, they pulled out the following 12 names that have some kind of relationship with Pluto, the Greek god of the Underworld, and they're putting it to a vote.

Acheron — the river of pain, which flows through the Underworld
Alectro — one of the winged Erinyes, goddesses of vengeance
Cerberus — the three-headed dog that guards the gates of the Underworld
Erebus — a primordial deity. The personification of darkness and shadow
Eurydice — Orpheus' wife, whom he tried to retrieve from the Underworld
Hercules — mortal son of Zeus. He had several adventures in the Underworld
Hypnos — the Greek personification of sleep
Lethe — the river of forgetfulness, which flows through Hypnos' cave and the Underworld
Obol — a coin placed in a dead person's mouth, to pay Charon for passage across the river Styx
Orpheus — musician and poet, he used his talents to bring his wife back from the dead
Persephone — Queen of the Underworld and goddess of vegetation
Styx — the river that separates Earth from the Underworld

You can vote for your favourites at for the next two weeks, afterwhich the winners will be announced.

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Personally, I vote for Orpheus and Eurydice since they make a good pair, but Cerberus and Styx are currently in the lead.

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