13 December 2012
The Moon With No Name
Mercury has no moons. Venus has no moons.
Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos ("fear" and "panic")
Jupiter has 67 known moons with secured orbits. Moons are named after lovers, conquests or daughters of the Roman god Jupiter, or his Greek predecessor, Zeus.
Saturn has 62 moons with confirmed orbits, 53 of which have names. Twenty-two of these are traditionally named after Titans or other figures associated with the Roman god, Saturn. Thirty-eight moons are small, irregular and classified by their orbital characteristics into Inuit, Norse, and Gallic groups, with their names chosen from the corresponding mythologies.
Uranus has 27 moons, all named after characters from the works of Shakespeare and Alexander Pope's poem, The Rape of the Lock. (Someone must have a sense of humour. Rape? Uranus? Seriously.)
Neptune has 13 named moons; the largest, Triton.
Pluto has five moons. Its largest moon is Charon, named after the ferryman who took souls across to the underworld. Other moons are Nix, Hydra, S/2011 P 1 and S/2012 P 1.
Haumea is a dwarf planet with two moons, Namaka and Hi'iaka. Eris, another dwarf planet, has one known moon, Dysnomia.
Do you get the impression that our moon is missing something, like, a name? Not even one of those boring numerical names. It’s just called the moon or Luna, which is Latin for “moon.” It’s the equivalent of naming your child, Human Being. “Stop misbehaving right this minute, Human Being, or else.” Hmm... actually, that kinda sounds good.
Earth’s moon is the fifth largest satellite in the Solar System. It’s in synchronous rotation with Earth, and so always shows the same face. Since ancient times, its prominence in the sky has made it an important cultural influence on language, calendars, art and mythology.
I think it’s about time we give this wonderful, generous, celestial body a name. I was thinking Donald. What do you suggest?