Sunday, July 24, 2011
A few days ago, from an examination of photographs taken by NASA's Hubble Telescope, a new moon was discovered orbiting Pluto. The moon is only 8-21 miles wide. Although NASA discovered it, they don't get to name it. By a consensus agreement, since 1919 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has been responsible for naming astronomical objects and features.
An unofficial poll of Space.com readers favors Micky, but sadly no working group of the IAU tasked with such an august chore as naming a space pebble is likely to go the humor route. Instead they're sticking to naming rules that require anything in the orbit of Neptune be given mythological names connected to the Underworld.
OK, fair enough I suppose, but the IAU might be favoring Cerberus. While that's a good name, it has already been used as the name of an asteroid.
Ask yourself this -- if a future version of yourself bought a timeshare on Cerberus thinking you were getting the fine view, not to mention the close and convenient shops and restaurants of the asteroid belt, only to discover you had actually bought property in the boondocks of Neptune's orbit would you be pissed or not?
I think so. Thus, if for no other reason than the clarity of future real estate transactions, I appeal to the IAU to resist the temptation of naming Pluto's new moon Cerberus. There is plenty of mythology surrounding the Underworld, show some creativity and pick a unique name.
Better yet, screw the rules -- Micky is a fine choice.
(via Life's Little Mystery's post: Hell of a Choice: Cerberus Leads for New Pluto Moon Name)