Write-in Ballot Closing

posted Feb 18, 2013, 10:25 AM by Mark Showalter

The write-in ballot has been a real education for me. We sifted through a about 30 thousand entries, many of them backed up by very thoughtful arguments. Thank you to all who participated.

Nominations are now closed. With one week left in the voting, we decided it is too late to add any more names to the ballot. However, I will be keeping the list handy. In July 2015, when New Horizons reaches Pluto, we will probably see "P6" (and "P7" and "P8" and ...). I have learned not to underestimate Pluto. At that time, the list will help us to select the next batch of names. 

By the way, if you are a fan of one of our eight most recent additions to the ballot, please don't give up! They may be way behind in the voting, but we realize that they had a big disadvantage by not appearing till Thursday. A late surge of support is something we would surely notice.

Of course we still have a week to go, so anything can happen!

--Mark Showalter

Opening up the Gates of Hell

posted Feb 14, 2013, 10:00 AM by Mark Showalter   [ updated Feb 14, 2013, 4:42 PM ]

We have received a huge number of very thoughtful nominations. Today we are adding eight more names to the ballot: Elysium, Hecate, Melinoe, Orthrus, Sisyphus, Tantalus, Tartarus, and Thanatos. Read about them at the "About the Names" link. Thanks for submitting so many great ideas. Pluto needs more moons!

To read more about the selections, see my longer blog on


posted Feb 12, 2013, 10:33 AM by Mark Showalter

We have made our first addition to the ballot. Vulcan is the Roman god of lava and smoke, and the nephew of Pluto. (Any connection to the Star Trek TV series is purely coincidental, although we can be sure that Gene Roddenberry read the classics.) Thanks to William Shatner for the suggestion!

Mr. Shatner's second suggestion, Romulus, has a bit of a problem because it is already the name of a moon. Romulus, along with his brother Remus, are the names of the moons of the asteroid 87 Silvia. They were discovered by a team led by my good colleague Franck Marchis, now a senior scientist at the SETI Institute.

24 Hours In

posted Feb 12, 2013, 7:10 AM by Mark Showalter

After just 24 hours of voting, we have received over 75,000 votes. The web site has seen at least a few visits from nearly every nation on the planet. We are delighted by the response so far.

However, that still means that at least 5,999,925,000 of you have not yet voted for the names of Pluto's moons. Keep those votes coming!

Welcome Everyone!

posted Feb 10, 2013, 9:36 PM by Mark Showalter

In 1930, a little girl named Venetia Burney suggested that Clyde Tombaugh name his newly discovered planet "Pluto". Tombaugh liked the idea and the name stuck. I like to think that we are doing honor to Tombaugh's legacy by now opening up the naming of Pluto's two tiniest known moons to everyone.

We need to choose two names from Greek mythology related to Hades and the underworld. The Greeks were great storytellers and the "Minions of Hades" are a colorful cast of characters. We have picked out a few of our favorite names to get the voting started, but if you have a better idea, let us know and we might add it to the ballot!

Thanks for participating.

1-5 of 5