…But the names have to be related to Greek mythology, specifically to Hades (or, as the Romans knew him, Pluto) and the underworld. And no, the fact that listening to NyanCat for too long makes one want to die doesn’t count.
Astronomer and “ace moon-finder” Mark Showalter has, along with his colleagues at the SETI Institute, set up a website (www.plutorocks.com) where denizens of the Internet can vote for what Pluto’s two smallest moons, now called P4 and P5, should be named. There are 12 names to vote on, though the aforementioned write-in option is available if you’re a Greek mythology buff with another Hades-related suggestion. Says Showalter, “There are so many choices we could have overlooked that could be just right.”
Voting ends on February 25th, after which the two names with the highest number of votes will be sent to the nomenclature committee at the International Astronomical Union (IAU), which will make the names official… or not. The IAU has the final say, but Showalter seems to think chances are good that the voted-on names will be accepted, saying “They know we’re doing this. We will make a good case for the names. And we will be able to use the way people have voted as an argument in favor of the names that we have put forward.”
So what could be joining Charon, Nix, and Hydra among Pluto’s moons? The options are:
SETI has helpfully provided a Dramatis Personae if you need to brush up.
This is a toughie. You can vote for more than two, so I think I’m going with Orpheus, Eurydice, and Persephone… But then there’s Hypnos and Lethe! Arrrgh, so many good options. What are you voting for?