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Mooning Pluto
February 11, 2013 10:21 AM   Subscribe

"Help Us Name the Moons of Pluto!" Pluto may have lost is designation as a full-fledged-planet in 2006 (after 'dwarf planet' Eris was discovered that is larger than it), but it still gets plenty of attention by astronomers. In the last two years, the Hubble Space Telescope discovered two more moons of Pluto, which have not yet been named. So Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute is doing an online survey.

Because Pluto was named after the Greek God of the Underworld (the Disney Dog was named a few months later), the names up for voting are all Greek Mythology (and mostly Underworld) related. They are:
Archeron, the "river of pain", a real-life river in Greece that was claimed to lead directly to Hell (not popular for riverboat cruises).
Alecto, one of The Furies and "daughter of Gaea fertilized by the blood spilled from Uranus when Kronos castrated him". Ew. Also a character in the Aeneid.
Cerberus, a mythical three-headed dog whose capture was the 12th Labor of Hercules (more on him later). It's now the name of a "Capital Managment Group" that recently sold off a gunmaker and bought a chain of supermarkets. NOT to be confused with a comic-book aardvark named Cerebus.
Erebus, the personification of darkness, considered in some mythologies one of the first five beings to come into existence from Chaos. Now the name of a 4-Story Haunted House tourist attraction in Pontiac, Michigan.
Eurydice, devoted wife/lover of Orpheus (more on him later, romantics should vote for both of these names for the two moons)
Hercules. Yeah, Hercules. Totally Hercules. Hercules, Hercules.
Hypnos, "the personification of sleep" and origin of the word 'hypnosis' and current manufacturer of "official beds of Britain's Royal Family".
Lethe, another one of the five rivers of Hades (considering the current image of Hell, it used to be pretty well irrigated) and goddess of forgetfulness and oblivion (apparently the inventor of "brain farts" and "senior moments").
Obol, "the term for the coin placed in or on the mouth of a dead person before burial... as a payment or bribe for Charon, the ferryman who conveyed souls... to the world of the dead." Cheron already has a Pluto moon named for him. Obol is now the brand name of "the original crispy bowl".
Orpheus, a legendary musician - and by legendary, I mean he had multiple legends written about him, including voyaging with Jason and the Argonauts and trying to bring his beloved wife Eurydice back from Hades.
Persephone, daughter of Zeus and queen of the Underworld, due to being abducted by Hades, who may or may not be Pluto, because while Greek mythology did not disapprove of child abduction and forced marriage, they could be kinda coy about identifying the perpetrator.
and Styx. (This post brought to you by "Too Much Time on My Hands")

Current vote tally with 14 days left: Styx and Cerberus in the lead, Hercules looking weak.
posted by oneswellfoop (51 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I voted Cerberus and Erebus, for their harmonious names.
posted by me3dia at 10:26 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


No Stephen Colbert? or Hitlerdidnothingwrong?
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:27 AM on February 11, 2013


I went with Styx and Hypnos. Styx because, well, Nix. And Hypnos because, that's just cool, man.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:29 AM on February 11, 2013


Archeron, the "river of pain", a real-life river in Greece that was claimed to lead directly to Hell (not popular for riverboat cruises).

I hate to be that guy, but it's Acheron. "Archeron" is more like "Hey, I'm in the mood for some edgy cartoon comedy. What time's Archeron?"
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:31 AM on February 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


I went Cerberus and Persephone for the mythological cogency, and because there were no options for Salty the Seal and Butch the Bulldog.
posted by Panjandrum at 10:31 AM on February 11, 2013


By tradition, the names of Pluto's moons come from Greek and Roman mythology, and are related to the ancient tales about Hades and the Underworld.

By tradition Pluto is a planet. I say we call those moons Bart and Homer and make the break with tradition complete.
posted by three blind mice at 10:31 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Considering who Charon, who Pluto's first moon was named after was...
In Greek mythology, Charon or Kharon (/ˈkɛərɒn/ or /ˈkɛərən/; Greek Χάρων) is the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead.
...I'd go with Acheron and Styx, the rivers Charon navigated. Even if one of them is also the name of a pop band.
posted by localroger at 10:34 AM on February 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yuggoth, obviously.
posted by Artw at 10:36 AM on February 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


> Pluto may have lost its designation as a full-fledged-planet

IAU: collateral damage.
posted by jfuller at 10:38 AM on February 11, 2013


Orpheus and Eurydice of course...
posted by jim in austin at 10:42 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The name of one of Pluto's moons is Nix, a name which does not appear in classical mythology. The IAU explains that "Nix" is the "Egyptian spelling" of the name of the Greek goddess Nyx (Νύξ), a statement which makes no sense. /pet plutonian peeve
posted by gubo at 10:43 AM on February 11, 2013


Needs more 'Hoth'.
posted by mazola at 10:48 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hate to be that guy, but it's Acheron.

Don't feel bad, I always have at least one typo/misspelling in every post I make here. Think of it as an Easter Egg and YOU FOUND IT FIRST! (No prize awarded)
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:49 AM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Needs more 'Hoth'.

Nah, if we're going that route, then it needs more sinister remoteness. How about Byss?
posted by Apocryphon at 10:57 AM on February 11, 2013


It's actually LV 426.
posted by Artw at 10:57 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'll vote for Styx if Dennis DeYoung will sing "Is this the probe to Pluto's moon ..."

Otherwise, it's Cerberus and Lethe.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:06 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bah, those are boring. I think we should name one of the moons "The Planet Pluto," in memory of Pluto's former planetary status, and so I can read articles about the moon of Pluto The Planet Pluto.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:19 AM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I rather liked the proposal, I forget who made it though it may have been cstross, of redefining gas giants as the only true planets and everything else can be a planetoid along with Pluto.
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I vote for Acheron because it makes me think of Protoss Archons. I love Archons.
posted by mkb at 11:30 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bah, ever since that travesty that demoted Pluto, I'm boycotting astronomy.
posted by Malor at 11:34 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Balthazar Getty.
posted by spicynuts at 11:41 AM on February 11, 2013


Boring Ass Cold Rock
posted by Burhanistan at 11:43 AM on February 11, 2013


I voted for "old shoe" and "clothes iron" but I bet it's going to be "kitty" and "cat" if recent experience has taught me anything.
posted by maxwelton at 11:49 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snoop and Augie, to continue the dog theme.
posted by rocket88 at 11:52 AM on February 11, 2013


Kid and Play
posted by Burhanistan at 11:55 AM on February 11, 2013


Archeron" is more like "Hey, I'm in the mood for some edgy cartoon comedy. What time's Archeron?"

The archeron is also the fundamental particle that carries the force of self-obsessed alcohol-soaked smarm.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:57 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Archeron and Cerberus.
Just cuz Cerberus is great mythos.
And Archeron, because it sorta sounds like Charon.
posted by symbioid at 12:15 PM on February 11, 2013


Dewey and Cheatham (pending the discovery of another moon).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:24 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


We should name one of them Hellboy.
posted by Schmucko at 12:56 PM on February 11, 2013


How about Gehenna?
posted by Schmucko at 1:01 PM on February 11, 2013


Tweedledil and Tweedledo.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:22 PM on February 11, 2013


MoonOverMyHammy
posted by spicynuts at 1:33 PM on February 11, 2013


Star Wars Kid and Numa Numa
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:38 PM on February 11, 2013


Acheron and Styx, like localroger said. And because it's a natural theme: Pluto, Charon, and the rivers of Hades.

It'll never happen, but I'd rename Nix and Hydra into Lethe and Cocytus, then save Phlegethon for when they find that inevitable sixth moon. The smallest rock can have the biggest, hardest to pronounce name.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:44 PM on February 11, 2013


The other moons are Charon, Nix, and Hydra; clearly all GI Joe villains.
posted by lydhre at 1:56 PM on February 11, 2013


Someday (not too far from now) we'll have the ability to directly image the planets and moons around other stars. And then we're going to have a problem, because the Greek mythological names will quickly run out. And then it'll be open season.

Who knows, at some point there may actually be a planet named Cobra Commander, with the moons Destro and Baroness. If there's enough moons they might even get down to the Drednoks.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:04 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Someday (not too far from now) we'll have the ability to directly image the planets and moons around other stars. And then we're going to have a problem, because the Greek mythological names will quickly run out. And then it'll be open season.

Hopefully each time we image a new star with planets, we pick a specific theme for that system. So one star will have planets named for great Jazz musicians, another for mighty sailing ships of maritime history, etc.

Maybe before we get desperate enough for themes like "smelly cheeses" and "weird skin diseases" we'll have found one to colonize.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:35 PM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


The really interesting and important systems (like the ones with Earthlike planets) may get names from other mythologies, like Mesopotamian, Hindu or Chinese myths. The Hindu gods alone could keep us in nomenclature for quite awhile.

I really like your idea of agreeing upon a theme before naming the stars and planets, though.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:44 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or we could go with a more modern pantheon: Marvel superheroes alone could supply us for a thousand years.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:59 PM on February 11, 2013


don't name anything after Galactus he might hear you
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:21 PM on February 11, 2013


Can we start naming elements now? Because Ununtrium, Ununpentium, Ununseptium and Ununoctium are embarrassing non-names.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:33 PM on February 11, 2013


The really interesting and important systems (like the ones with Earthlike planets) may get names from other mythologies, like Mesopotamian, Hindu or Chinese myths.

Yeah, A. C. Clarke's Rendezous With Rama (thus) prefigures the exhaustion of Greek pantheon and the astronomical community moving on to Hindu, which is not unexpected for him.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:36 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Help us name ... " and then they give a list of names to pick from? Really, they ought to save those irreplaceably portentous Greek names for more significant entities, like earth-like exoplanets.

Correspondingly, I submit Huey, Dewey, Louie, Gyro and Helper. Just in case it would irk Tyson.
posted by Twang at 3:50 PM on February 11, 2013


Okay, we can start with other ancient mythologies, moving up to more current religious, um, notables (expect a total clusterfrak over using Apostles, Saints or Popes - sorry, only one John per universe - but the real fun will be where we'll use the name Xenu). Some of the Greek pantheon has appeared in Shakespeare's plays, so we can mine them for other characters from his plays, which will lead to historical royalty (we may need a 'must be deceased for at least XXX years' rule for real people), then more contemporary literature, giving favoritism to Fantasy and Sci-Fi, because I want to see a Moon named Spock LONG before Lucy. Sorry.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:59 PM on February 11, 2013


No love for Elron and Thetan?
posted by hexatron at 4:41 PM on February 11, 2013


It's clear browncoats haven't found this poll yet, or Persephone'd be a little higher up.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:22 PM on February 11, 2013


Come on now, astronomers are going to waste all the good mythological creatures on minor moons. There is only a limited supply, sooner or later they'll wish they had saved some. Like when the triple asteroid comes to destroy Earth, and they can't call it Cerberus because they used that up on a chunk of ice orbiting Pluto.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:18 PM on February 11, 2013


I voted Obol, because Kobol. Obvs.
posted by Iteki at 10:14 PM on February 11, 2013


Or we could go with a more modern pantheon: Marvel superheroes alone could supply us for a thousand years.

Planet Purple Man.
posted by Artw at 11:44 PM on February 11, 2013


'Vulcan' voted top Pluto moon name

The winner of the poll: Vulcan

The Runner Up: Cerberus

But like it says in the article, the International Astronomical Union has final say. Guess we'll see if they go with William Shatner's suggestion or not.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:44 PM on March 1, 2013


I think they picked Vulcan just to mess with astrologers that use a "hypothetical planet" of Vulcan, which is supposedly orbiting so close to the sun it cannot be observed directly.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:12 PM on March 1, 2013


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