Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Naming the New Planet

Suggestions for the name of our solar system's recently-discovered tenth planet are rolling in.  Michael Brown, the California Institute of Technology astronomer who led the discovery team, traditionally gets to suggest the name, then the International Astronomical Union (IAU) makes it formal.  Although the IAU hasn't even officially christened the object a planet, hundre4ds of suggestions have been sent in, informally, to NewScientistSpace.com, in anticipation of the christening.  In an article at National Geographic:
The clear winner was "Persephone" (Greek spelling) or "Proserpina" (Roman).

In Greco-Roman mythology, Pluto/Hades, god of the underworld, kidnapped Persephone/Prosperina and made her his wife. Her mother's sadness was such that it caused winter—making the name especially apt for a cold, distant planet. [...]

Brown pronounced the runner-up—"Peace," or its Latin root, "Pax"—"a good name." And according to O'Neill, of NewScientistSpace.com, Brown "really liked [sixth-ranked] 'Bob' as a possible name."

"Galileo," "Xena," "Rupert" (after a gag in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), "Titan," "Nibiru," "Cerberus," and "Loki" round out the NewScientistSpace.com readers' top ten.
Apparently, some consideration is being given to the fact that of the nine named planets, only one has a woman's name.  That gives an edge to Persephone or Xena.  

To avoid controversy, I think we should name it "Pat."

Categories: armchair musings