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Pluto's moons get names

July 3, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
Sorry, Star Trek fans. Pluto isn't going to have a moon named Vulcan.

"Vulcan" was the run-away winner in an online naming contest held last winter, but the International Astronomical Union apparently decided yesterday that a Star Trek name – the name of Spock's home planet – was too common.

Officially, they said the Roman god Vulcan, the god of fire, didn't have close enough associations with the mythology of Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld whose name was Hades in Greek mythology. Instead, the two newly discovered moons will be called Kerberos, the Greek spelling of the Roman Cerberus, a scary three-headed dog who guarded the gates to Hades, and Styx, the name of a river in the underworld that souls had to pass over to get to Hades. Cerberus, or Kerberos, and Styx were the second and third place winners in the naming contest.

I voted several times in the naming contest. My sentimental favorites were the names Orpheus and Eurydice. In Greek mythology, Orpheus was a musician who played so beautifully that he won permission from Hades to lead his newly deceased wife, Eurydice, away from the underworld and back to the land of the living. Unfortunately, there was a catch to that agreement, as there usually is. Orpheus could not look back to see if his wife was following or he would lose her forever. Orpheus couldn't resist one glance back at her and Eurydice stayed in Hades, leaving Orpheus to mourn alone on Earth.

Maybe they will find more moons and the next ones can be called Orpheus and Eurydice.


Article Comments



Jul-09-13 8:35 AM

I think they should have named the moons Pete and Repeat...


Jul-08-13 8:33 PM

Learn something new every day.


Jul-08-13 12:38 AM

Pluto is officially a dwarf planet. All the dwarf planets have moons with names. Even some asteroids have moons with names.


Jul-07-13 11:46 PM

I thought Pluto had officially been disqualified as a planet. Can non-planets have moons?


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