Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pluto Has a New Moon, & it Needs a Name

Image Credit: NASA/ESA/M. Showalter/SETI Institute

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered a tiny new moon orbiting Pluto. This newest object, currently dubbed "P4", is estimated to be between13 and 34 kilometres across, and joins three other known satellites orbiting the former planet; Hydra, Nix, and Charon.

Moving past what some would call the strange irony, and even confusion, of an object no longer designated as a planet having it's own moons (if you STILL don't get Pluto's downgrade, try going HERE), Pluto's newest companion needs a name. And while there isn't any official way to go about suggesting one, there are a number of places to go where your suggestions could potentially be heard.

Personally, I suggest you visit the source for this entry on New Scientist, where Mark Showalter, who lead the team who discovered the object, left the following comment:

"I want you all to know that we're paying attention to this thread. We welcome any and all serious suggestions. The name must come from Greek mythology and be associated with Hades and the Underworld. We'll probably be making our recommendations to the IAU Nomenclature committee within a week or two. Sorry, no cash prizes."

You obviously shouldn't expect any recognition for your efforts either, as this is really more like casting a vote. But hey, if your suggestion does end up being chosen as the name of Pluto's newest moon, no one's going to stop you if you decide to go around bragging to your friends that they went with your personal suggestion. Of course, unless your friends are as geeky and uncool as I am, they probably won't care.



Source: New Scientist

For more about Pluto, it's discovery, and yes, why it is no longer considered a planet, check out the following excerpt from an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson, on WNYC Radio.

Posted by Youtube user: wnycradio

Full interview available HERE

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