Name Pluto’s two new moons

Planet Pluto

Until a few years ago, dwarf planet Pluto had only three known moons: Charon, Nix and Hydra. In 2011 and 2012, two more moons were discovered. Astronomers would now like some help naming these two new moons.

“By tradition, the moons of Pluto have names associated with Hades and the underworld,” so the ballot options include Acheron, Alecto, Cerberus, Erebus, Eurydice, Hercules, Hypnos, Lethe, Obol, Orpheus, Persephone, Styx and Vulcan. Write-in suggestions may also be added to the ballot before it closes. (Vulcan was added after being suggested by none other than William Shatner, for instance.)

Right now, Styx and Cerberus are in the lead.

Vote here, up to once per day, until February 25.

The official picks — which may or may not match the public’s top two choices — “will be announced after their formal approval by the International Astronomical Union.”

Source: Astronomers Ask Public to Help Name Pluto’s New Moons
Image: Global Mosaic of Pluto in True Color (NASA)

8 thoughts on “Name Pluto’s two new moons

  1. My first pick was Lethe, because I think that’s a great name for a tiny moon such in a distant region of the solar system.

    My second pick should have been one of the other rivers, but I actually went with Obol, because all those rounded letters just look planet-like to me.

  2. I thought these were nearly fantastic choices, so I voted for nearly all of them! (This probably defeats the purpose of voting, now I think of it).

    I liked Alecto and Orpheus the best.

  3. They’ve added eight more options!

    From Mark Showalter’s Feb. 14 blog post:

    In addition to surpassing 220,000 votes in just a bit over three days, we have received about 15,000 nominations for alternative names. Today I have just added eight more to the ballot, selected from among the most popular nominees.

    The eight new names on the ballot are Elysium, Hecate, Melinoe, Orthrus, Sisyphus, Tantalus, Tartarus and Thanatos.

  4. As of right now, only 4 of the 21 options have over 50k votes: Vulcan (1st place), Cerberus (2nd?), Styx (3rd?), Persephone (4th). Cerberus and Styx are neck and neck.

  5. More than 450,000 people have weighed in, and the winners are…Vulcan & Cerberus!

    The Pluto Rocks! page currently says: “Please be patient now. It could take 1-2 months for the final names of P4 and P5 to be selected and approved. Stay tuned.”

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