Astronomers announced a contest Monday to name the two itty-bitty moons of Pluto discovered over the past two years. Pluto is the Roman equivalent of the Greek’s Hades, lord of the underworld, and its three bigger moons have related mythological names: Charon, the ferryman of Hades; Nix for the night goddess; and the multi-headed monster Hydra.
The two unnamed moons — no more than 15 to 20 miles across — need similarly shady references. Right now, they go by the bland titles of P4 and P5. Online voting will last two weeks, ending Feb. 25. Twelve choices are available at the website http://www.plutorocks.com.
Among the choices: Hercules, the hero who slew Hydra; Obol, the coin put in the mouths of the dead as payment to Charon; Cerebrus, the three-headed dog guarding the gates of the underworld; Orpheus, the musician and poet who used his talents to get his wife, Eurydice, out of the underworld only to lose her by looking back: Eurydice; and Styx, the river to the underworld.