A thoroughly sporadic column from astronomer Mike Brown on space and science, planets and dwarf planets, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the joys and frustrations of search, discovery, and life. With a family in tow. Or towing. Or perhaps in mutual orbit.

S/1 90482 (2005) needs your help

“S/1 90482 (2005)” is really not much a name as a license plate number. As does a license plate number, it tells you pretty much everything you need to know to identify the object in question. “S” is for satellite. “/1” means it is the first discovered. The “2005” at the end tells the date of discover, and the “90482” tells whose satellite it is, but only by yet another number. This number refers to the 90482nd minor planet (in the old terminology; no one quite knows what the new terminology is, but the numbers keep coming) to be officially recorded. That object is more commonly referred to as the large Kuiper belt object Orcus. We don’t ever call the moon of Orcus by its official name of S/1 90482 (2005). Instead, around here, it is referred to mostly as “the moon of Orcus.”

It’s time to change that.

Not all of the Kuiper belt objects known and number have names, and, as I have written here earlier, I think most don’ t need them. It is OK to consign them to semi-anonymous license plate numbers if they are never really going to be thought about as more than one of the crowd. But a few special objects get studied and talked about and written about enough that need not so much just names, but also personalities. Orcus was one of those objects. Its personality was quite apparent from the beginning.

We discovered Orcus in early 2004. At the time it was the 4th largest known Kuiper belt object, though by now it has dropped to something like 8th. The most interesting thing about Orcus to me was that it appeared to be the anti-Pluto.

Pluto has what was originally thought to be a peculiar orbit. It circles the sun precisely two times for every three times that Neptune goes around the sun. Though it took astronomers a long time to realize it, this peculiarity is not a coincidence. Neptune’s gravity so dominates the region of space where Pluto is that Neptune has herded Pluto into this very special orbit. Pluto is not the only one that Neptune is pushing around. We now know of hundreds of similar objects in the Kuiper belt, including, now, Orcus.

Pluto’s orbit has a few other interesting features to it. It is so elongated that, for a brief time during its revolution about the sun, it actually comes close to the sun than does Neptune. So does Orcus. When Pluto comes close to the sun, though, it is never actually close to Neptune, partially because at that point in its orbit it is high above the disk of the planets, hitting the most extreme spot of its tilted orbit. Just like Orcus.

In fact, if you look at the orbits of Pluto and Orcus (and I encourage you to do it if you never have; check out the extremely cool orbit plotter at JPL but you'll have to zoom out to find Orcus), you will see that they are nearly identical except for 2 things. Their elongated orbits point in nearly opposite directions, and, right now, Pluto is nearly as close as it ever comes to the sun while Orcus is nearly as far away as it ever comes. In fact, because Pluto and Orcus are forced by Neptune to have precisely the same orbital period, they will always stay in opposite phases of their orbits.

Orcus is the anti-Pluto.

Several years ago, when searching for a name for what was then known only as 2004 DW, we decided to concentrate on the anti-Pluto aspect of the object’s personality, and we came up with Orcus. In the version of the Orcus myth that I like to tell, Orcus was, essentially, the early Etruscan grim reaper, collecting the dead and bringing them to the underworld where another god – Pluto – ruled. As the Etruscan mythology was incorporated into Roman mythology and blended with Greek mythology, Orcus lost his separate identity and Pluto became the master of all of the functions of the dead. Orcus became in some ways simply an alternate name for Pluto, but it also remained a slightly more evil and punishing incarnation of Pluto. In that incarnation, the Latin word Orcus was the origin of words such as ogre and orc.

In my new mythological/astronomical view, Pluto the Kuiper belt object is now named after that earlier version of Pluto, before the Romans came along and swept everything together. And Orcus is his counterpart, destined to eventually be pushed aside by the rising Pluto. Orcus seemed a very appropriate name for this new object in the Kuiper belt.

About a year later, while looking carefully at Orcus with the Hubble Space Telescope, we realized that it had a moon. In the past year we have been studying the moon of Orcus intensely and are in the final stages of writing a scientific paper on all of the interesting things about this moon. Which means it is time to stop calling it “this moon” and give it a proper name. But what?

Here’s where you come in. Send me suggestions! I’ll submit the best suggestion to the International Astronomical Union on Sunday, April 5th (about 2 weeks from now) with your name as part of the official citation (if you want it to be).

If you make a suggestion I would like to know not just what the suggestion is, but why you think its appropriate. As you can tell by now, this is the part that matters to me!

To help you out, let me tell you some of the other interesting things about the satellite. It has about a ten day orbit around Orcus, in a tight precise circle. We suspect – though can’t yet prove – that Orcus and its satellite have their same faces locked towards each other constantly, like an orbiting dumbbell. Only one other Kuiper belt object and satellite are known to do this. Who? Pluto and Charon, of course.

The origin of the satellite of Orcus is confusing. Pluto and Charon are thought to have formed in a giant collision. Haumea clearly had a shattering blow to disperse moons and other family members. But small Kuiper belt objects are thought to acquired moons by simple capture.

Orcus is right in the middle. Was the satellite from a collision or a capture? We had hoped to answer this question by observations from the Hubble Space Telescope. If the satellite had looked just like other known collisional satellite, we would have been pretty convinced. It doesn’t. Unfortunately that tells us less. We can’t rule out either. We have some ideas of new Hubble Space Telescope observations to try to tell the difference. For now, though, we’re just confused.

While the scientific paper will have more details and calculations, that will be the gist of it, and those properties are all you get to know to try to discern the personality of the moon of Orcus and to try to pull out the right name.

You can send suggestions as comments to these pages (www.mikebrowns planets.com in case you are reading this elsewhere) or simply email me (mbrown@caltech.edu ), but please put “Orcus” in the subject line so I don’t mistake you for a potentially business partner from Nigeria.

Good luck. S/1 90482 (2005) is counting on you.


  1. Hmm. Dispater seems an obvious choice, being another god of the underworld that was subsumed into Pluto's mythology in a similar way to Orcus.

    But a better parallel to Charon may be Acheron, one name given for the river Charon sailed upon.

  2. How about Thanatos? It is the Greek personification of death - although its true Roman counterpart would be Mors, Thanatos is often identified with Orcus.

    I don't remember anything about Orcus having children or spouses, or even cousin's nephew's former roommates, so I think associations by divine aspects would be your best bet here.

  3. Or thinking about it, you could also name it Mors. For the same reason.

  4. Mors seems way too similar to Mars. An entity similar to Charon seems like a good choice - the Etruscan Charun is too similar to Charon, but Thanatos is apparently also a psychopomp.

  5. What about Fraus, the goddess of treachery. "Daughter of Orcus and Nox, with a snake’s tail and hidden deformities, She is a goddess of fraud and deception."

    Canto III: Circuit of The Sixteen Heavens, IX (SSE)
    "Within this House is found Betrayal's Queen,Deceiving Spirit*, sly and treacherous, The daughter born of Orcus and of Nox**."

    Sounds appropriate for an object who doesn't want to give away its origin.


  6. How do you feel about Vanth, the underworld figure from Etruscan myth who is most often paired with Charun? Her role is ambiguous, but consistently chthonic: acts of death cause her to appear, she accompanies the dead into the next world; she has no counterpart in Roman or Greek mythology. Or if you prefer to take a cue from the paintings in the Tomb of Orcus, there's always the obscure, snake-haired, otherwise unattested Tuchulcha.

  7. Is the satellite's orbit determined well enough to calculate the mass and density of Orcus?

  8. Orcus's wife would be Phersipnai, Phersipnei, Proserpnai (whichever spelling you prefer), who is the equivalent of Persephone. Nice resonance there in that Persephone has never yet been commemorated in the outer solar system...

    But for full symmetry with Pluto/Charon, Vanth would definitely be better (and her name is nice and short and easy to say).

  9. How about Orpheus, He was the one who played sad music for Hades/Orcus to put him in a better mood.

  10. Hi :)

    I did a little cursory research on Orcus and struck out. He seems to have had few friends. Orcus morphed in to ogre in the French language and spawned a whole new mythology. It may have been a corruption of the French word for "Hungarian". Some of the myths may have been based on the real life crimes of Gilles de Rais, who was hanged on October 25, 1440. Apparently he was one of the worst serial murderers in recorded history with 80-200 victims, mostly young. He also commanded 36 men under Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years War. Joan of Arc conducted lighting war, a war of national liberation, so there were relatively few holocaust type casualties by the standards of the era. She was, herself, one of these casualties.

    I struck out at Haumea, too, having suggested "Rhode", god of the Greek island of Rhodes, to both Mike Brown and Jose Luis Ortiz as a conciliatory gesture. That didn't work. Having only done theoretical work and not observations on the object I can cheerfully accept that :)

    However, I did make a suggestion to Lilah Brown about Eris soon after it's discovery; I asked her to tell her daddy not to name then Xena "Beelzebub". I think the object is a Lagrangoid and I kept running into Beelzebub researching Jean Joseph Louis Lagrange. Apparently a Mr. Lagrange did scholarly work on Beelzebub but I was unable to determine from the limited references if it was Jean Joseph Louis or some other Lagrange. There's a little town in Texas called Lagrange which is famous for a house of ill repute. ZZ Top even wrote a song about it, accompanied by music which definitely qualifies as "outer space music", in my opinion. By coincidence the song uses harmonics in the lead guitar solos and harmonics are important to understanding orbits. The mathematics of vibrating strings and orbits are quite similar.

    To get a harmonic on a guitar, lightly touch the string at the fifth, seventh, or twelfth fret but do not push the string down onto the fret. Then pick a note. Billy Gibbon's technique is similar but quite advanced, takes a lot of practice.

    Reviewing the unsavory characters surrounding the myth of Orcus I have had a bit of a change of heart about using the name "Beelzebub". But not for S/1 90482 (2005).

    Instead I would like to see it used for a member of the collisional family of Haumea. It should be used for the largest of them but we don't know which one that is.

    Beelzebub was the local god of the city of Ekron, which today is a suburb of Jerusalem. He was the Ba'al of Zebub. A Ba'al is an idol. Zebub is not really a location, however, instead it is a substance around which flies gather. The Hebrew was rather unspecific about this and flies often gathered around corpses. Thus Beelzebub became the "Lord of the Flies" and gradually morphed into a lieutenant of Satan in the propaganda war between the Israelites and the Philistines. The Hebrews derided the various local gods as pieces of stone and said the Philistines believed that the god actually lived within the stone statues themselves.

    I would like to nominate 2002 TX 300 for the name, "Beelzebub". TX is the abbreviation for the State of Texas whose residents for over a century bragged about their state being the largest. However, that changed with the Statehood of Alaska. Thus the name acknowleges that we may well find that some other member of the collisional family may eventually become the "Lord of the Flies".

    Beelzebub first appears in the Bible when King Ahaziah fell through the roof of his palace and sent emmisaries to Ekron to consult the priests of Beelzebub. The prophet Isaiah didn't like that.

    However, the relevant passage which makes this name a dead-serious suggestion comes from the New Testament, let me quote Wikipedia quoting the Bible:

    "In Mark 3, verse 22, the Pharisees accuse Jesus of driving out demons by the power of Beelzeboul, prince of demons, the name also appearing in the expanded version in Matthew 12.24,27 and Luke 11.15,18–19. The name also occurs in Matthew 10.25.

    'Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Lucifer, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (NIV translation)' "


    -Michael C. Emmert

  11. Orcus' wife was Proserpina (Persephone), so would seem an obvious choice.

    I like Orpheus, also, but would hold out hope that such an awesome name as that would be reserved for a more "significant" solar system object.


  12. Hello!

    What about "Tartaros", which is the Name of the Area for the very Evil Souls in the Underworld (actually it is the Name of the Castle of Pluto/Hades, which is surrounded by three Walls) or "Erebos", another Name for "Kingdom of the Shadows".

    Many Greetings;



  13. I suggest Thesan (Tesana)

    Thesan is the old Etruscan goddess of the Dawn, Divination and Love. She belongs to a purer and better race of beings and comes to a man in his dreams at dawn and whispering:

    “Waking, awaking, Softly and gently, Thou truly good man, Rise from thy sleep!
    The day is dawning, I am a spirit; One who brings comfort; I come to thy aid,
    To give to thee courage, To give thee fortune,”¹

    Thesan represents deity that got swept aside and the Anti-Pluto

    Mike Brown`s article says “before the Romans came along and swept everything together” under the name of Pluto. Certainly things pushed aside included fairies, magic and ancient divination. Thesan represents divination.

    Apparently Orcus "is a terrible spirit who was once a great wizard"² and “every remarkable spirit was ……always a magician.” These roots may represent the anti –Pluto you speak of. Thesan represents a supportive, supernatural underworld.

    It may be said, as Jung suggested, that hell and the underworld assumed previously unknown blackness and terror under the Roman Catholic church. I think the following quote, though lengthy, shows the appeal of the old Etruscan pantheon:

    “This old religion of nature was congenial to the people because they understood and deeply felt it…..here is a spirit in the pathless woods, deep song in silent shade, life in the long-forgotten land of early days……. possible portals through which elves or their own elfin thoughts may pass. They know the Voice of the Waterfall……or silent pool "under the stars," ….these were all spirits……. there was a jolly, mischievous, familiar goblin who lived in the fire, or haunted the fireplace, who teased the girls and bothered the boys, and was "so sociable." All of these were like themselves, and within their natural comprehension, and they would believe in them because, as they must adopt some kind of supernaturalism, they took that which was most natural, sensible, and congenial to them.”³

    Why are they locked together?

    Surely Orcus would be entranced by the beautiful and beguiling Thesan and maybe this is why they are locked together in what may be another binary K.B.O. Thesan may have been associated with the Greek Eos and the Italian Aurora; Thesan has him in her rosy fingers!

    This name will appeal to little girls!

    I am a mother with a daughter fascinated by the solar system and all it’s stories. Little girls like to hear of fairies and magic. Enough of the gloomy energy. Lilah will love this choice. Let’s leave them a world with some fairies in it!


    ¹ LEYLAND, C.G. (1892) Etruscan Roman Remains in Popular Tradition; Sacred Texts: http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/err/err07.htm pp77

    ² LEYLAND, C.G. ibid. pp75

    ³ LEYLAND, C.G. ibid pp98

    From Alison

  14. I think the suggestion of Thesun, suggested here by Alison deserves serious consideration. It seems to represent everything that has so far been discovered about the Planet and the research appears sound and well done and is explained beautifully

  15. If you want to continue the theme of Orcus as the Etruscan anti-Pluto, why don't you name the moon after Vanth, the female guide of the dead in Etruscan mythology? Charun, her male analog, became Charon in later mythology, but Vanth had no Greek counterpart and so lost out. A picture is here: http://www.canino.info/inserti/monografie/etruschi/dei_etruschi/img/vanth.jpg

    Apparently, Sovay agrees with me.

  16. Does it always have to be about Lilah? Why special consideration for her? What about all the other boys and girls around the world and people of all ages? Please, let's not make this about nepotism.

  17. I too like the name Thesan and think that the themes are well represented with this name. Also i think a black and white theme would be synonymous with with the fact that is is referred to as the anit Pluto. The report given in the post from 'Alison' gives us a picture of a bright new hope for the future and surely this is what was apparent with the discovery of the Kuiper belt

  18. i'd like "Thesan". she was a white witch and sorceress. sounds like the name for her!!! ^^ jessie

  19. Ladybug!

    For argument, see: http://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_ladybirds/Orange-spotted.htm

  20. Although it has nothing to do with mythology, I'd be tempted to call Orcus' moon Pocus.

  21. I think Phlegyas would the logical choice.

    Pluto's is Charon, boatman of the river Styx. Since Orcus is another name for the mythical god of the underworld, I would assume it's moon should be named for another boatman, specifically the one from the Divine Comedy, named Phlegyas, who brought Virgil and Dante across the river Styx.

    Good luck in your name search!!!

  22. I vote for "Colbert".

  23. "Wand." So it can be the Wand of Orcus.

    Yes, I was a D&D nerd at the age of 11.

  24. Dike (Justice). They were companions

  25. Dike (Justice).Orcus and Dike were companions

  26. Rather than focus on underworld mythology, for me, Orcus calls to mind "Orca." So for that little moon, I'd prefer "Spiracle" (blowhole - on a whale), or perhaps "Cetacea."

  27. Tuchulcha

    In Etruscan mythology, Tulchulcha was a chthonic daemon (not to be confused with the Christian term "demon") with pointed ears (perhaps those of a donkey), and hair made of snakes and a beak (perhaps that of a vulture). Tulchulcha lived in the underworld known as Aita.

    The only known rendering of Tuchulcha is identified in a wall painting in the Tomb of Orcus II, in Tarquinia, Italy. There the deity appears in a depiction of the story of These (Greek Theseus) visiting the underworld. These and his friend Peirithous (only his head visible in the surving portion of the image) are playing a board game, attended by Tuchulcha

  28. I vote sisyphus, doomed to eternity to repeat the same task over and over again. seeing orcus's face constantly seems to appropriate this name.


  29. "And Nyx (Night) bare hateful Moros (Doom) and black Ker (Violent Death) and Thanatos (Death), and she bare Hypnos (Sleep) and the tribe of Oneiroi (Dreams). And again the goddess murky Nyx, though she lay with none, bare Momos (Blame) and painful Oizys (Misery), and the Hesperides ... Also she bare the Moirai (Fates) and the ruthless avenging Keres (Death-Fates) ... Also deadly Nyx bare Nemesis (Envy) to afflict mortal men, and after her, Apate (Deceit) and Philotes (Friendship) and hateful Geras (Old Age) and hard-hearted Eris (Strife)." (Hesiod, Theogony 211, translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White).

    anything here strike your fancy?

  30. as i read about this planet on nasa astro pix of the day
    the word
    came to me
    no idea what it means or is
    but it sounds appropiate.

    fair ru buss

    what do you think

  31. We've all seemed to pick-up on the Hades angle, so how about either "Demogorgon" or just good old fashioned "Gorgon," also a keeper of the nether region? Pluto, Orcus, Gorgon; Has a rather nice ring, doesn't it?

  32. CROM

    (after Conan's God in the Robert E. Howard tale .. "By Crom!) The estate should be delighted to grant the rights, but if not, then shift the first letter to B .. BROM also sounds cool.


  33. Matt said...

    "I think Phlegyas would the logical choice. Pluto's is Charon, boatman of the river Styx. Since Orcus is another name for the mythical god of the underworld, I would assume it's moon should be named for another boatman, specifically the one from the Divine Comedy, named Phlegyas, who brought Virgil and Dante across the river Styx."
    Matt has the best idea IMHO.

    The Pluto / Charon / Acheron
    & Orcus / Phlegyas / Styx
    symmetry is irresistible!

    Note: Orcus was the punisher of broken oaths and the gods all swore their binding oaths by Phlegyas's Styx.

    "Styx was guarded by Phlegyas, who passes the souls from one side to another of the river. The gods respected the Styx and swore binding oaths by it. Gods that did not follow through on such an oath had to drink from the river, causing them to lose their voices for one year, then being exiled from the council of gods for nine years after that."

  34. I'm really impressed by so many poster's intimate knowledge of the most obscure names/mythologies imaginable.

    But why should we limit ourselves to this particular tradition?

    How about something a little more contemporary? Something a little more lively?

    How about naming the object Capt. Joshua Slocum, the first person in history to circumnavigate alone, and if there is a moon, then how about Spray, the name of Slocum's 40ft. brigantine?

    Or how about Amelia Earhart who launched into into space never to find home again?

    Or how about Wilbur and Orville? The immortal Wright brothers?

    These things are a couple of huge pieces of rock that no human will ever explore, and they will remain forever obscure, what their names must be is not very important, so why not have a little fun?

  35. How about Velia , the etruscan noblewoman who sneers at the darkness of the tomb of the Orcus?

  36. "Feast" as in "The Feast of Orcus" which is, I think, October 13th. Yes, I'm another former D&D nerd. lol

  37. I like the sound of Morta She was a/the Roman goddess of death.

  38. frances danielle cruz:

    i think it would only be between phlegyas or thesun. both have the logical name background. good luck!

  39. If ORCUS is the god of Punishment,
    Then is seems only fitting that the discovered Moon should be called.. PEONA (POINE).
    The Goddess of Vengence and punishment.


  40. I vote for "Phlegyas", yet another ferryman on underworld river!

    Quote from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Styx_(mythology) :

    "Styx was guarded by Phlegyas, who passes the souls from one side to another of the river. In other versions, Phlegyas guarded Phlegethon, one of the other main rivers of Hades. Sometimes the ferryman was called Charon.(Also spelt Kharon in older texts)

  41. Is Horus or Osiris already taken by another celestial object?

    Or how about a little Orcus, namely Orculus?

  42. i suggest URSEELE by a story of Tommaso Landolfi

  43. Well, I have no knowledge of Etruscean mythology and I would not be able to quote greek authors but I had thought at first of who I believed to be his greek counterpart: Thanatos
    Otherwise to my knowledge had been three judges in the ancient greek hells: Minos, Eaque and Radamanthys who I don't believe to have been already placed in the sky.

  44. Personally I support Vanth. Nice parallelism, as was mentioned before.

  45. agree with Matt

    Phlegias would be the logical continuation of the tradition already begun, regardless of its spelling.


  46. To Kirk would be absolutely convenient;-)

  47. Why do not you call it Fiona, Shrek's girl ? :-)

  48. Derived from on eof Xenophon's ideas I choose "Wilbourne" :-)

  49. Why cling to the outmoded pretense of sophistication by sticking to mythologic characters?

    Call it Wally.

    Imagine, a whole generation of peering into their eyepieces, checking the ephemeris carefully, revising their star charts and muttering... "Now... where's..." ;-)

  50. Dis Pater is a fairly obvious name, but my suggestion for a name is Dis, as "Dis Pater" was sometimes shortened to Dis.

  51. I think Norris. Because Chuck is everywhere.

  52. How about "Custos", latin for guard or protector?

  53. Aw c'mon, ya gotta call it Goofy.

  54. Pluto - Charon
    Orcus - Phlegyas or even
    Orcus - Vanth (this one I prefere)

    for the same reasons many have explained in the above posts.
    It shouldnt be too complicated, right?

  55. name it Colbert

  56. I like Morrigan

    "The Morrigan is a Celtic goddess of battle, strife, and fertility. Her name translates as either "Great Queen" or "Phantom Queen,"

  57. To me it should be an update from Greek and the other classical languages. Like many people these days I get most of my astrological information from a series of websites of which the primary, for me, is Astronomy Picture of the Day more commonly referred to as APOD and would like to suggest this abbreviation as the name. This would be recognition of the work done by the site and its keepers and contributors to keep Astronomy in the popular memory.

  58. I'm amazed nobody has come up with CERBERUS as yet, the
    dog who guarded the gate
    to Hades, while PLUTO guarded the river which you had to cross to reach that gate.

  59. How about "Dorcas"?

    From Wikipedia: "Dorcas" is a female name of Greek origins, (the Aramaic cognate is "Tabitha"), meaning "gazelle".

    This was a treat to read about tonight! Congratulations!

  60. It's about time somebody called one of these objects
    'Rupert' after Douglas Adams 10th planet. Howabout this moon?

  61. Может Вирго (Virgo)?

  62. Вирго - в римской мифологии богиня справедливого возмездия.

  63. "Porcus"
    No special mythological reason for that, it justs sounds like a cartoonish family name...

  64. How about Acererak? He's the servant of Orcus... in Dungeons & Dragons. A bit of humor never hurts.

  65. Sisyphus seems most apropriate! As he has eternity to spend in Hades rolling the stone up the hill...

    So if anyone's mentioned this name already I up them :) (Didn't really read all the propositions yet)

  66. Hi all I was thinking if you where Orcus out in the colder reaches of our Solar System you would want your partner with you so surely Phersipnei would be a great name for Orcus Moon, also the idea of the orbit of Orcus moving in and out of other orbits is like the story of Orcus and Phersipnei (Hades and Persephone)with Phersipnei being allowed back to Earth for six months a year before returning to Hades. Take care of you and yours.

  67. I'd like to submit the name Rush, after the thinking man's favorite rock band. Or maybe By-Tor, like one of their songs (By-Tor And The Snow Dog).

  68. Naaawww, it's all too hi falutin' and pompous. We're talking about a moon of a minor object, and, as Pluto is well known as the dog of Mickey Mouse, my suggestion would of course be Rantanplan, the dog of Lucky Luke.

  69. I gonna give another vote for Vanth for the mythological connections mentioned above as well as a bit of ambiguity of her actual role/looks (as related to us not knowing exactly how Orcus' moon formed/was capture etc.).

    just address the idea of "Persephone". There is a main belt asteroid (399) named Persephone.

  70. Darth Vader. This would be the translation of greek mythology into today's language.

  71. I vote for "Yuggoth"

  72. Hi, interesting and amusing to read all the entries, thanks. I would like to suggest Covenant as in brotherhood. Greetings from Sweden,

  73. Of course Yuggoth is nice, but...

    Seriously, Vanth has a very nice ring to it.

    On the other hand, somehow getting (another?) marine pun in there would be great. After all, they are shepherded by Neptune!

    Someone who knows a bit of Latin and Greek should browse through some marine species names and see if there is anything to fit. My language skills are abysmal ;)

  74. Sisyphe of course !

    Sísyphos /

  75. I was thinking about NIOBE (and LETO, for the next satellite they find around Orcus...

    Multiple sources (Wikipedia, et al...) The story of Niobe is an ancient one. She is mentioned by Achilles to Priam in Homer's Iliad book XXIV,

    Niobe is also mentioned in Sophocles's Antigone where, as she is marched toward her death, she compares "her own loneliness to that of Niobe".

    The Niobe of Aeschylus, set in Thebes, survives in fragmentary quotes that were supplemented by a papyrus sheet containing twenty-one lines of text.[7] From the fragments it appears that for the first part of the tragedy the "GRIEVING NIOBE SITS VEILED AND SILENT."

    Sophocles too contributed a Niobe that is lost. Furthermore, the conflict between Niobe and Leto is mentioned in one of Sappho's poetic fragments, ("Before they were mothers, Leto and Niobe had been the most devoted of friends."

    Gene Stahl
    Stafford VA

  76. Well, if Orcus is the anti-Pluto, maybe... Zeus?
    Although in the Disney's film, the enemy of Pluto (Hades) is Heracles... I think the real opposite could be Zeus. :)

  77. Orcus, Schmorcus!

  78. May be Bacchus?

  79. Тоже из греческой мифологии - Одиссей (Odissey).

  80. Imp - for no other reason than that so much comment has been caused by such a small object, a small counterpart to its parent Orcus.

  81. I think Hades(god of the dead), Persephone(wife of Hades), Proserpina(wife of Hades), Thanatos(god of death), Erebus(personification of darkness), Eoa(goddess of the dawn), Aurora(goddess of the dawn), Hesperus(the evening star), Vesper(the evening star), Hypnos(god of sleep), Somnus(god of sleep) and, Morpheus(god of dreams) would make good names.

  82. I found a link to your blog from the Astronomy Picture of the Day and thought I'd add my 2 cents...

    Proserpine, Queen of the realms of the dead, was abducted by Pluto to be his wife...IMHO, the anti aspect of the planets' relationship to one another says something of reluctant bedfellows and this would tie in nicely with the mythology.

    He says, "Proserpine you shall be mine and together we will rule forever."
    She replies, "M'Lord in this place that I must grace, our paths will never cross."

    Proserpina is already the name of an asteroid, but is this really a position worthy of a Queen?

    As for the alternative spellings...'Proserpine' is easy to remember and also the form taken by some of our greatest poets, including Percy Bysshe Shelly (Song of Proserpine) and John Milton (Paradise Lost). Further, 'Proserpine' as a spelling would avoid any conflict with 26 Proserpina.

    And last, in mythology, a great part of the story of Proserpine relates to Ceres' search for her daughter, and I think this can be likened to your work in finding this planet. Here is an Orphic Hymn I found in my copy of Bulfinch's Age of Fable:

    "Long was thine anxious search
    For lovely Proserpine, nor didst thou break
    Thy mournful fast, till the far-fam'd Eleusis
    Received thee wandering."

    Kind Regards,
    PG Stonefly

  83. Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrr........ Huhhhh???????????? Duh!!!!!!!!!!!! I think that name's too childish!

  84. Gruen?

    After an influential architect of modern shopping malls. Pastiches, or caricatures, of some unrealized ideal society. Where trapped souls wander aimlessly, slowly, without expression.

  85. Some ideas:



  86. My vote goes for Persephone (Roman name: Proserpina) as she was Pluto's wife and the exact opposite of him: she was cheery and happy and lively, and he was...Death.

  87. I am voting for "Demogorgon"- the dark and shapeless grim spirit, the one with the dreaded name, of the underworld.

    "Orpheus" also seems like a second choice, though being a bit too mild for a character related to the far reaches of the solar system and the allusion to the nether.

    Georgi Marinov
    yrkki at yahoo.com

  88. Although I do like Vanth, Orpheus and Proserpina, I have another name to suggest. Name it... Demogorgon - the primal Terror-Demon.

    'Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name/ Of Demogorgon.'
    -Paradise Lost - John Milton

  89. Klatuu....sounds alien....

    or Bob....sounds human....

    Froper....say no more....the moon has been named....

    per my 12th grade English class

  90. Vanth seems like the obvious, and quite elegant, choice.

  91. I can't decide.
    I prefer Orpheus, but Thanatos and Cerberus are also good choices.

  92. How about something more commercial?
    They sell naming rights to arenas.
    Maybe Pepsi or Geico would like to 'fund your research' in honor of naming S/I 90482 (2005) for one of their fine operations.

    They can brag, you can laugh at them.

  93. In honor of our historic president, I think Barack or Obama would be awesome. However, since the universe does not belong to any one human or any one nation, this may not represent what you are trying to achieve in the name.


  94. Name it "Stephen Colbert"

  95. "Lisa said...

    In honor of our historic president, I think Barack or Obama would be awesome."

    WHAT? I'm guessing you are a 'liberal'.

    Just what makes him historic?
    The fact that he is of African descent?

    So, you think the single fact of being black elevates him to greatness?

    Then you are worse than liberal, you are racist.

    I suggest you go back and read/download Dr. King's 'I have a dream' speech.

    Yes, Dr. King would be elated that a man of color had reached the White House, but he himself would probably caution us that we should judge him by the content of his character not by the color of his skin.

    Think first, listen to emotions after.

  96. Cerberus
    The guard dog of the underworld.

    Seems like the moon is hounding interlopers in its domain, just as a guard dog should.

  97. The obvious anti-Pluto is Demeter, but she already has an asteroid named for her - and for her Roman incarnation as Ceres. I would also suggest Persephone, but she also already has an asteroid named for her. How about Eurydice, whom her husband Orpheus failed to rescue from the Underworld?

  98. "Jim said...

    Aw c'mon, ya gotta call it Goofy."

    I couldn't agree more!!! Anti-Pluto...

  99. How about "Decca"? It has a ten day orbit (latin prefix is dec- for ten... or close to to that) and it's a circular orbit, like a record. So, Decca seems a good choice (cause there was, maybe still is, a record company called Decca.)

  100. Hey..
    I love the mythological and scientific names come up so far...

    but throwing it out there...


    For the Greek version of Shane...

    Upcoming physicist

  101. I think the most appropriate
    would be the "Morcus",as it beautifully connects the two words
    Moon and Orcus.Simple,Clear and
    Regards from Cyprus

  102. For Orcus' moon I suggest the name "Eep Opp."

    A reference to the Jet Screamer song from "The Jetsons." ;-p Eep Opp Orc-ah-ah ("that means 'I love you'").


  103. For Orcus' moon I suggest the name "Eep Opp."

    A reference to the Jet Screamer song from "The Jetsons." ;-p Eep Opp Orc-ah-ah ("that means 'I love you'").


  104. orcus morcus .. =) just name it johnny ...

  105. well I must admit
    I wish I had thought of Goofy

    but another option....

    why not otulP???

    Pluto - otulP

    with the capital on the end, not the beginning

  106. "Tyson."

    His recent revisionism aside, you can't get more anti-Pluto than that.

  107. I recommend the name "gorgos" which means grim. Gorgos is a possible source for the name Demogorgon, a pagan god or demon associated with the underworld and believed to be a powerful primordial being.

    Gorgos would be a simple name for a satellite of Orcus which can also be associated as a pagan god of the underworld.

  108. Orcus' moon should be named:

    Cynthia, Godess of the moon

  109. How about Pocus? First of all it's not elitist with all these mythological referencees. Second, it shows astronomers have a sense of humor. Third, easily remembered - Orcus, Pocus!

  110. I think we should call it Butch after Pluto's friend/enemy in the Mickey Mouse cartoons, or maybe Mickey or even perhaps Figaro, Minnie Mouse's cat?

  111. Many thoughts. Way too many religious nuts ruining the true creations of our universe; instead of written fiction.

    Keep it simple - I submit "Sucro", reverse of Orcus.

  112. The best name for this satellite is Persephone (Περσεφόνη-Persefoni). Nice name to see, read and hearing. Also solar system is full of male names, excetpt of Venus. What dο you thing?

  113. Well I think Bob is the most obvious choice, but why not call it Chris? I think Chris is a good name; my mother is Chris, my former brother was Chris and my current sister is still Chris.

  114. I also thought of Orca: maybe Dolphin?

    There's certainly a tradition of naming asteroids after humans, but let's stay away from politicians. Exploration and cetaceans both suggest Cousteau.

    If you like either of these enough to submit it, yes, please do put my name on it.

  115. How about Luna? Simple, short, and to the point

  116. Plato

    Love your notions about Persephone/Proserpina. I guess that's the classicist's best choice.

    But come on... have some fun.

  117. Since I really enjoyed to read this web comic:
    Orcus' moon may well be named after its main sinister character, demon and god of the Moabites, "Belphegor".
    ("Moloch", another good choice, also plays a role in there).

  118. How about 'Porkins'? Especially if the moon's orbit is deteriorating and will eventually crash into Orcus.

  119. As a lifelong D&D player, my associations with Orcus come from there. The co-creator of that game, E. Gary Gygax, passed away last year. Now, I think that Gygax is a damn cool name, so I humbly put it forth.

  120. I propose:


    that is "dominated by the orcus" in the Black Language of J.R Tolkien "The lord of the rings" (and the other books about the Middle-earth, like "the Silmarillion" and "The hobbit"). The Black Language is the ancient idiom of the evil forces.

  121. I like the name Vanth ... but for something totally off the wall, how about Ahab? (of Moby Dick fame).

  122. How about Bob? Bob the moonlet. Simple yet catchy!

  123. How about something amusing? Uncle Leo???

  124. My sister pointed me this way, and I excitedly came to suggest something... only to find that it has been suggested many times already. So, I'm here to voice my support for "Vanth". It fits, and it seems to have the most support so far BECAUSE it fits.

  125. I also vote for Phlegyas. Perhaps a different spelling can be found to help people pronounce it.

  126. Anyone for Egon?

  127. Well if this is the anti Pluto then it should be Otulp. But that's such a dysphonic mouth musher. Therefore I suggest:


    It's *almost* the opposite of Pluto, and it has a nice ring, though there is of course no evidence that Tuplo has a ring.

    dave at sputnik dot com

  128. I like the name Persephone as I am a woman after all! but not an underground woman like Persephone.

  129. Lets keep it simple. Call the moon "Fred".


  130. How about Malcanthete, D&D companion of Orcus?

    Or Demogorgon?

  131. I agree with naming it "Cerberus." Orcus also represents the underworld itself, and of course every underworld must have a three-headed dog to gaurd it. This moon's relative size and close orbit suggest a faithful yet hardly wimpy watchdog.

  132. How about the Death Star - cuz I'm a Star Wars geek ;)

  133. How about AC/DC, since they proposed a "Highway to Hell"?

  134. Combine "Moon" and "Orcus" and get "Morc." Or you could spell it "Mork." Hopefully we'll find a second moon of Orcus that we could call "Mindy."

  135. I also found this from the Astronomy Picture of the Day site. Seeing as noone has made this suggestion yet, I put forth the name "Ardneh".

    In Fred Saberhagen's Swords series, Ardneh is a mythological figure who fought the great demon Orcus to protect humanity from his ravages. In the end, they both perished in the battle.

  136. How about a meaningless anagram of Orcus like Cruso or Scour or Rocus or.........

  137. (Another) Anonymous said - "Name it Stephen Colbert"

    Steve's a nice name...

  138. Going from Orcus to ogre to Shrek, how about Donkey? The companion that he can't seem to rid himself of.

  139. In literature the next planet out from Pluto is always Persephone. Too bad that didn't happen in real life. I think Persephone (or Proserpine) is too good a name to attach to the moon of a minor/dwarf planet.

    By "literature" I mean science fiction. It is the only genre in which anybody worries about planet names, especially undiscovered planets.

  140. Vanth

    It's short sweet and to the point. And I think we should have more female names in the solar system.

  141. Naming a tiny moon of a tiny not-exactly-planet after a major deity seems a bit inadequate, methinks.

    Maybe a nymph or servant of some sort?

    I propose Quah-Nomag, the name of the high priest who resurrected Orcus after his first defeat...

    ...in Dungeons and Dragons, that is

  142. Since there seems to be a locked couplet, the best choice should be Orpheus and Eurydice. However as other Kuiper objects have been named using the Inuit mythology (eg. Sedna) perhaps a choice from that would be more appropriate such as Qailertetang who was the companion of Sedna or the equivalant spirit of death for the Inuit Nanuk, also the master of polar bears.

  143. Warg- based on old english for "wolf"

    Yes, it's mixing greek mythology with norse, but if you'll read Tolkien, you'll see Orcs ride on the backs of Wargs. Wargs are all over mythology as partners to primary evil actors - a good moon name.


  144. My suggestion is that Orcus’s moon should be named Xolotl – the Aztec (and Toltec) God who helped the deceased pass through various trials to reach the underworld of Mictlan.

    My reason is symmetry.

    Pluto’s moon is named after Charon, the ferryman who helped people cross over into the underworld.

    In Aztec mythology the dead had to make a dangerous four year journey to the deepest layer of the underworld known as Mictlan. That was one of the jobs of Xolotl.

  145. 'Clarke' in memory of Arthur C. Clarke and his original proposal for geosynchronous (communication) satellites, since it is orcussynchronous.

    I was also considering Rama as a triple allusion to Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, the avatar of Vishnu (Ramachandra), and the meaning of Rama, which is dark, black, or darkness. The last being an allusion to its distance from the sun.

    However, it doesn't seem appropriate to name a small moon for someone so noteworthy in the Hindu pantheon. Maybe we can start with Hindu names with the next solar system discovery?

  146. Hi Mike...

    I'm Andrés Felipe Ramírez from Pereira, Colombia. I'm electrical engineer, and after some investment about Roman Mythology, "Mors" or "Letum" would be a great name for this moon, because he's the Roman personification of death.


    Virgil, Aeneid 6. 268 ff (trans. Fairclough) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :
    "[Aeneas and the Sibyl journey to the Underworld :] On they went dimly, beneath the lonely night amid the gloom, through the empty halls of Dis [Haides] and his phantom realm . . . Just before the entrance, even within the very jaws of Orcus [Haides], Luctus [Penthos, grief] and avenging Curae (Cares) have set their bed; there pale Morbi [Nosoi, diseases] dwell, sad Senectus [Geras, age], and Metus [Phobos, fear], and Fames [Limos, hunger], temptress to sin, and loathly Egestas [Aporia, want], shapes terrible to view; and Letum [Thanatos, death] and Distress; next, Letum's (Death’s) own brother Sopor [Hypnos, sleep], and Gaudia (the soul’s Guilty Joys), and, on the threshold opposite, the death-dealing Bellum [Polemos, war], and the Eumenides’ iron cells, and maddening Discordia [Eris, strife], her snaky locks entwined with bloody ribbons. In the midst an elm, shadowy and vast, spreads her boughs and aged arms, the whome which, men say, false Somnia [Oneiroi, dreams] hold, clinging under every leaf."

    Best wishes from Colombia with your discover and many thanks for working in the name of science...

    Ing. Andrés Felipe Ramírez

    + info: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mors

  147. I like Cetacea, also, because when I saw Orcus, that was the first thing that popped into my head. I like mythology (like most people) but like most people, would be lost with these other mythological references.

  148. A number of SF alien worlds are located in the Kuiper Belt, with alternative biochemistries that are death to us but viable enough out there. I vote that we leave the names of Death, Darkness, Guard-dogs and the like to the objects we're more likely to interact with, and the smaller stones get lighter-sounding names.

    Originally I was going to suggest Morcus (Mork) from Orcus (Ork), but it's come up several different ways already. It's still my favourite. By any chance, is this little satellite egg-shaped?

  149. In sticking with the anti-Pluto theme, how about scrapping Orcus and going with Otulp, then the moon would of course be Norahc. If another moon is found, though, it would be harder to pronounce Xin (or Ardyh).

  150. Count me in for "Colbert."

  151. My suggestion would be Gyruss - a great, classic arcade game which uses our own solar system and its planets as its setting - 'nuff said.

  152. Demogorgon is another "lord of the underworld", but I happen to like Thanatos as well.

    How about another underworld lord, as in Mephisto or Baal (unless those have already been used, of course).

  153. I'd go with Vanth or Tukhulka, if we're sticking with an Etruscan theme.

  154. why not HADES?
    pluto ist the roman god of hell, hades is the greek god of hell...

  155. Although I like Vanth, I vote for Acheron fo the following reasons:
    * it keeps a clear allusion to Charon and Pluto/Orcus
    * Acheron besides being a river was a deity, who gave water to drink to the Titans, and was exiled by the chief Olympian Gods (Jupiter and NEPTUNE)to the Plutonian Undergound as a punishment.
    This is clearly fitting the scenario where it was a free object in the early belt, navigating at 10, 20AU (so quite close to the Titans, the Saturnian Moons) and was expelled by Neptune's migration (the order of the Olympian Gods) to get captured by Orcus in the realm of the Plutinos (Pluto's orbital domain).

  156. I like the suggestion of Thesun, suggested by Alison deserves consideration.

  157. Hel. Simple. Hel is the Norse goddess of the underworld.

  158. Justice is orbiting Orcus,
    or even Nemesis

  159. Given that Orcus is described as the anti-Pluto, I like Juno, Greek goddess of the heavens, or Astraeus, Greek Titan god of the stars and planets.

  160. Aristarchus should be a name used somewhere in astronomy .. he was the Greek who was exiled for saying the earth orbited the sun, and the moon orbited earth. Aristarchus should of course signify the death of our self-assured certainties that we know what we know when we we really don't know what we even think we know.

  161. Name it Serenity! Hopefully there won't be any copyright infringement, haha!

    Or Barack....

  162. Given the 'still up in the air' nature of the moon and your description/background something a little more generic might be in order (that still sounds in keeping with the name Orcus).

    Duco (latin) "to lead on the march; marry a wife, command, to draw, shape, construct, spend, delay, esteem, consider, to charm, influence, mislead, draw in."

    All those definitions seem to be approriate for all the given particulars regarding the moon's makeup. Additionally, is none too complicated a name to get out into the community in general.

    K. Pinkela

  163. I too like Vanth. She's often depicted in Etruscan painting as a beautiful, winged female figure, and most of the names so far have been grim. I'm all for adding a little beauty!

  164. I too like Vanth. She's often depicted in Etruscan painting as a beautiful, winged female figure, and most of the names so far have been grim. I'm all for adding a little beauty!

  165. Hel The Scandinavian goddess of death and ruler of the realm of the dead. I would recommend that we start looking at the northern gods for similar ones that would compliment Pluto's fame.

  166. Persephone!!!
    There is an archaic role for Persephone as the dread queen of the Underworld, whose very name it was forbidden to speak. In the Odyssey, commonly dated circa 800 to 600 BC, when Odysseus goes to the Underworld, he refers to her as the Iron Queen. Her central myth, for all its emotional familiarity, was also the tacit context of the secret initiatory mystery rites of regeneration at Eleusis,[7] which promised immortality to their awe-struck participants—an immortality in her world beneath the soil, feasting with the heroes who dined beneath her dread gaze.

  167. Fifi.

    Pluto was Mickey Mouse's pet. Fifi was Minnie Mouse's pet.

  168. I just went back and reviewed prior posts. In spite of my earlier suggestion, I now have to stand solidly with the Arthur C. Clarke references, i.e., either "Clarke" or "Rama", preferring the former.

  169. I suggest "Cerberus" , the many-headed guard-dog of Hades. The name has been used elsewhere in the Solar System and the constellations, but not for a semi-planetary body, so I think it would still be allowed. And Cerberus was, in Virgil's words,

    "Orcus' warder, blood-besmeared,
    Growling o'er gory bones half-cleared
    Down in his gloomy den"

    so a classical connection with Orcus.


  170. I'm just 15 and I don't know very much about mythology as many others, but I like the ideas of:
    Radamanthys, Minos, Thanatos (Death), Orpheus, Acheron, Horus, Osiris... or maybe Masiris (that's just a name that came in to me, but I like it..)


  171. It's clear. The moon should be called Morcus. Morcus of Orcus.

  172. I like Dis, (drop the pater). Not only is it a mytho name that equates to the whole Pluto/Orcus complex, but it evokes (in my mind) the prefix
    deci-, from the Latin "decimus", meaning "10" - the 10 day orbit around Orcus.

  173. Persephone!
    A great name for a great discovery!

  174. Pursuing the "Orc" angle, if the moon was captured, who else would be more appropriate than "FRODO"

  175. Persephone is a great name but there is already an asteroid with that name.

    I vote for Dis

    Although Goofy is good too :-)

  176. I choose Minos

    As a satellite of of Orcus, the moon's name should be something of an underworld assistant. Cerberus is the obvious choice; too obvious since it is already attributed to MPC 1865.

    Minos became the Judge of the Dead. I like Cerebus better, but to avoid confusion, Minos it is!

  177. How about "Tits"? I think it would be really funny to have a celestial object named "Tits."

    Or "Dave."

  178. I would suggest that, while sticking to the Orcus theme, that you follow the example of John Herschel's naming the Uranian moons after characters from English literature. As both "orc" and "ogre" are (probably) derived from Orcus, it would be fitting to look among their kind. Although it may have some appeal in a Xena/Gabrielle sort of way, I won't dare to suggest "Shrek"--nor "Gothmog," the orc chieftain (who looks sort of like a deformed pig, and whom I always think of as "Porky") who leads the assault on Minas Tirith in the Peter Jackson "Lord of the Rings" movie. (Though Gothmog is mentioned in passing in Tolkien's trilogy, it's not clear that he's even an orc.) Instead, I'll suggest the name Bolg, the orc-lord who led an army of orcs and wargs (monstrous wolves) against an alliance of elves, dwarves, and men (and one intrepid hobbit) in the Battle of the Five Armies, where he was ultimately killed.

  179. Cerberus for sure....to keep with the theme.

  180. I'm seeing a lot of suggestions for Thanatos and Mors - just wanted to remind everyone that I was the first one to suggest those two names...

    Though I do also like Vanth and Fraus. But Thesun just doesn't do it for me for some reason.

  181. the name of the newly discovered planet should be "ANTIP" which refers anti pluto.

  182. Instead of naming it "Colbert", what about "Serenity", since that's the name that Colbert beat with his write-in campaign?