Last July, researchers at the Carnegie Institute for Science discovered 12 new moons orbiting the tiny and aptly named Valetudo, an odd-ball and Jupiter’s smallest known moon. Now, members of the general public have been given the chance to name some of these newly discovered satellites.
Suggesting a name is very simple. You just need to tweet your idea to the @JupiterLunacy account and explain why you chose that particular name. You must also include the hashtag #NameJupitersMoons. But don’t rush off to propose “Moony McMoonFace”! The requirements are actually quite strict, as is often the case with astronomical names. You have until April 15 to submit your idea.
First of all, the name needs to be a character from either Roman or Greek mythology, specifically descendants or lovers of Jupiter/Zeus. Given that Zeus is the archetype of the f*ckboy, there’s plenty of names to choose from. Unfortunately, the name cannot be similar to that of another moon or belong to an asteroid. So, thanks to a combination of Jupiter having many moons and the Western obsession of naming most astronomical objects after characters in the Greek-Roman mythos, the pool of names from which to choose is restricted. You can check current asteroid names here and here, and the names of other moons of Jupiter here.
The submissions must not be offensive in any language or to any culture. They cannot be commercial in nature. And they cannot be names shared with individuals, places, or events mainly known for political, military, or religious activities. They also shouldn't commemorate living people, although it would be quite impressive if a living person was the descendant of Jupiter.
The final stipulation relates to the ending of the word. Out of the five moons, two are prograde meaning that they orbit Jupiter in the same direction as it rotates. They require a name ending with the letter “a”. The other three are retrograde, meaning that they orbit in the other direction, and their names need to end with the letter “e”.
If you think you have a winning name, do participate in this interesting challenge. And if you can’t think of a name then check out the hashtag, maybe you’ll find some inspiration! If you're curious about the complexity of naming astronomical objects, you can take a look at the International Astronomical Union's rule page.