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IAU approves names for newly discovered moons

26 Aug 2019, 14:48 UTC
IAU approves names for newly discovered moons
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Students representing the astronomy club at Lanlivet School in Cornwall England were among those suggesting the name Pandia, daughter of Zeus and Selene, for one of Jupiter’s newly discovered moons, previously known as S/2017 J4. Image: Lanivet Junior & Infants School
What’s in a name? When it comes to moons, quite a lot.
That’s what many participants probably realised earlier this year when we asked them to tweet us suggestions to help name five of the recently discovered moons of Jupiter.
“There are many rules when it comes to how we name moons,” said Carnegie’s Scott Sheppard, who last July announced the discovery of 12 new moons orbiting Jupiter, five of which were the subjects of this contest. “Most notably, Jovian naming conventions require its many moons to be named after characters from Greek and Roman mythology who were either descendants or consorts of Zeus, or Jupiter.”
But there are plenty of other strictures as well, including maximum character lengths and the final letter of each name, depending on the direction of a moon’s orbit.
From February to April, we solicited name suggestions and the submissions ranged from the scholarly to the silly, including some inevitable Moony McMoonFaces and a ...

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