Houston Call me crazy, but I think this would be fun. I noticed a brief blurb in the “news” section of the recent Science magazine. It heralded the discovery by astronomer Scott Shepherd of twenty additional moons orbiting around the planet Saturn. I had not realized there was a contest, but some how Saturn with 82 moons has now beaten Jupiter with a measly 79. My memories from high school has Saturn still leaning hard to get to two figures, but now, wham, it’s a planetary leader. Some of these moons are small fry picked up by supers telescopes that can pierce the skies in ways unimaginable fifty years ago.
Anyway, now that we have this bounty, it seems the pranksters and fun lovers over there at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. have made a contest of sorts out of coming up with names for these twenty newbie moons. Before you get on the website and submit your own name by the December 6th deadline, you need to know the rules though friends, and that makes it a bit harder. It seems that the existing array of moons in various orbits were grouped and named based on Norse, Intuit, and Gallic mythology. Looking on the bright side, we could get three bites at this space apple, if we’re willing to do the work in all three branches of myth. But, before you start chewing with me, seventeen of the new moons need a Norse name, two Inuit, and one, Gallic, so the odds are best on the Norse side.
Reading this, I reached out to my son, Chaco, who has been a lifetime reader of mythology and often surprises us with references to this or that unknown god. I wrote him in Houston where he was watching his favorite baseball team, the Astros, be demolished in the second game 12-3 by the Washington Nationals. I said, hey, let’s do this. It’ll be fun. He said, OK, then lamely sent me Thor and Loki, as if that were all that was involved. Oh, no, partner, I wrote back, this is going to take some work. We’re actually going to have to get some teams together to do a deep dive into the mythology of all three groups to find some super name that could live as long as there are planets!
Don’t stereotype this Carnegie bunch as an outfit full of pocket-protector nerds. They are thrill seekers, and here’s the best example, when it comes to throwing our nominations up against their wall.
Tweet your suggested moon name to @SaturnLunacy and tell us why you picked it. Photos, artwork, and videos are strongly encouraged. Don’t forget to include the hashtag #NameSaturnsMoons.
Lunacy, indeed! They want Bollywood dancing, costumes, and posters. And, they want it by tweet, which can only mean that they are trying to get Trump to throw a name into the hopper. Who else still uses Twitter, eh?
Anyway, before you say, Thor is the bomb, like a hundred others, the Carnegie crowd makes the righteous suggestion that you check the master list of sub-planet names to make sure it’s not already taken. Maybe it’s open, because it would be a sure winner!
Who is up for some fun with astronomy, mythology, and a chance to put your small collective fingerprints on moons in space that might last longer than the planet earth? Let’s do this!
Please enjoy “Tell The Truth (Radio Edit)” by The Avett Brothers.
Thanks to KABF.