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Kerberos and Styx: Pluto's new moons get named


A new contest lets the public choose the names of Pluto's newly-discovered moons.


Mr Showalter

Pluto's moons are finally getting names.

The moons formerly known as P4 and P5 - seemingly named after areas in a parking garage - will now be called Kerberos and Styx.

Pluto, the rock formerly known as a planet, now has five icy moons, with the newest ones discovered in July 2011 and July 2012.

The rather ominous names were chosen via a two-week contest in February and were recently approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Both names derive from Greek and Roman mythology, as does Pluto - the ancient god and ruler of the underworld.

More from GlobalPost: New Pluto moon discovered

Kerberos, or Cerberus, was the three-headed hound believed by the Greeks to guard the gates of Hades.

Styx is the river that one crossed to enter (or escape - though not if Kerberos was around) the underworld.

There were 12 names on the ballot, including Eurydice, Alecto, and Persephone. About 450,000 votes were cast, and voters suggested another 30,000 other names.

The winning submission was actually "Vulcan" but was vetoed by the IAU likely for its lack of relation to the name Pluto.

“I hope the public is going to be pleased with the decisions that were made,” said Mark Showalter, who discovered the moons.

“I don’t think anybody’s ever tried quite the scale of an Internet poll as we did.”