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.
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 http://www.plutorocks.com/ 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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