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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

It Came From Outer Space

SETI Asks the Internet to Name Pluto’s Smallest Moons, Is Probably Already Inundated With Meme-Related Write-Ins

…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 ( 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?

(via: Wired)

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  • Anna Sophia May

    I love the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. I read the Metamorphosis based on the Ovid, and the scene with their story was just… so beautiful.

  • Daniel

    I voted for Cerberus… But I also wrote in 2 ballots for additional names: Sisyphus (Who has to roll a stone up and mountain and it will always fall down before the top) and Tantalus (forced to be forever thirsty and hungry with items JUST OUT OF REACH).

  • Anonymous

    Hmm, i think i might write in Mnemosyne if Lethe is a choice…

    But Cerberus and Erebus are so attractive…

  • Rebecca Pahle

    One of the other rules is that it can’t be a name that’s already claimed by an asteroid—which Mnemosyne is. Shame. That’d be awesome.

    If Orpheus and Eurydice can be moons together I’d be happy.

  • Anonymous

    Should be Persephone and Demeter.

  • Anonymous

    Poop! :(

  • Randy Randy S

    Cerberus is the first thing I thought of

  • Randy Randy S

    But Orpheus and Eurydice is just perfect for two moons related to the Underworld

  • Supermorff

    There’s two of them, they’re tiny, and you posted an image of Hades from Disney’s Hercules… has anyone suggested Pain and Panic yet?

  • Supermorff

    Demeter is already an asteroid:

  • Anonymous

    What a waste of a good name on an asteroid. 1108 was enough of a name for that rock.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Plus she’s less related to the underworld than underworld-adjacent. Underworld-in-law. Ceres is a dwart planet at least. *shrug*

  • Katie

    I was going to suggest Persephone before I read the list, so definitely that.

  • Rizz Rustbolt

    So they’re not keeping Thanatos?


  • Rizz Rustbolt

    I had a pet owl named Tantalus.

  • Eric Sikora

    Those are Mars’ Moons (Deimos and Phobos)

  • Xandra Kat

    I really think Persephone would be a good name for a moon of Pluto, because of the idea that moons aren’t really there by choice, much like Persephone isn’t wife to Hades by choice. :)

  • Marian Hilliard

    A moon named Styx would rock.

  • Supermorff

    Deimos and Phobos are terror and fear. Probably covers Panic, not so much Pain.

  • Katelin Rose Roberts

    I say Eurydice or Orpheus