Help Populate the (Solar System’s) Underworld

Remember Pluto, erstwhile member of the Sun’s retinue of planets? For an object that lacks the dynamical oomph to have cleared its neighborhood, this little dwarf planet sure has accrued an impressive number of satellites. Five of them have been discovered to date, but only three — Charon, Hydra, and Nix — have been given names. The others, laboring under the uninspiring temporary designations P4 and P5, have yet to undergo their official naming ceremonies. So this is your chance to weigh in!


Not officially, of course. The Nomenclature Working Groups of the International Astronomical Union are unlikely to hand the keys to the Solar System over to the unwashed masses, just so they can end up with celestial objects named “Gaga” and “The Situation.” But they will be consulting with the Hubble Space Telescope discovery team, led by Mark Showalter of the SETI institute. And Showalter has thrown the question open to public input (via 80beats). He is asking folks to vote on a variety of possible names, all drawn from underworld mythology. Your vote won’t be binding on anyone, but who knows? If Alecto storms to the lead, the IAU might just decide that a “hideous, snake-haired monster” is just what the Solar System needs.

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5 Responses to Help Populate the (Solar System’s) Underworld

  1. Dr. Morbius says:

    I’ll have you know, good sir, that I washed before I voted!! Harumph.

  2. Tony Rz says:

    I haven’t a clue, but it seems that every planet and some asteroids have orbiting satellites so it would only be common sense that other stars would also, at least I always believed it was so. So, name them after the Mayan Gods, such as Votan and Yaluk, etc.

  3. David Yerle says:

    This fixation with the underworld is a little gloomy. I would reinterpret the whole thing and start giving them names from Disney characters. Pluto would still fit beautifully.

  4. NR says:

    Think of how poetic it would be to name P4 and P5 Orpheus and Eurydice. Two bodies, forever seeking each other, yet forever kept apart by forces they cannot control in Hades’ lair.

  5. Albanius says:

    Cerberus and Orthrus