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Space and Physics

Can You Guess Which Of These Names Are Moons Of Saturn And Which Are IKEA Furniture?

author

Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer

clockAug 17 2018, 12:58 UTC

Dotted Yeti/Mirageart/Shutterstock

An astronomer has taken to Twitter to highlight some of the weird names given to Saturn’s moons – by comparing them to pieces of Ikea furniture.

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Dr Sarah Hörst, Assistant Professor of Planetary Science at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, has been tweeting out unusual words and asking people to guess if they are moons of Saturn or the Swedish furniture giant's household objects. And it's harder than you might think.

“I’m tempted to play a game where you have to guess if a name is a moon of Saturn or a piece of IKEA furniture,” she wrote. 

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There have been a handful of polls so far, with people, for the most part, being able to guess the right answer. The trickiest one has been Narvi, with 163 voters almost split down the middle as to which one it was.

So as not to spoil things, we’ll post the polls so far here. Then further down, will tell you which was which. Dr Hörst is doing about one per day at the moment, with the current vote asking people to guess what Jarnsaxa is.

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Saturn has 62 moons in total, although only 52 of these have names. The rest have been given numerical monikers relating to when they were discovered. Of those that are named, Titan is by far the largest, being bigger than all the other moons combined.

The moons were originally named after mythological Greek Titans, Titanesses, and giants. Once those were used up, however, various giants from other mythologies were used, while the smaller oddly shaped moons are named after Inuit and Gallic gods, and Norse ice giants.

This leads to some rather unusual name choices. There’s Polydeuces, Kiviuq, Skoll, Hyperion, and other weird things used to name them. Some of the more famous, aside from Titan, are Enceladus with its icy surface, Mimas with its Death Star-like crater, and Iapetus with its two-toned surface.

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And that’s pretty apt when compared to IKEA furniture, also known for its bizarre Swedish terms. Everything from Fyrkantig to Grönkulla to Dagstorp is used to describe humble household items. Who knew they’d be so similar to celestial objects, too?

Anyway, without further ado, here are the answers to the polls that have finished so far. How many did you get right?

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Space and Physics
  • Saturn,

  • moons,

  • twitter,

  • viral,

  • furniture,

  • astronomer,

  • IKEA,

  • thread