In spring 2017, a team of astronomers saw the first signs of another twelve yet unknown moons orbiting Jupiter. After confirming these sightings with further observations, the discovery was announced in July 2018, bringing the total number of Jupiter’s known moons to 79, more than any other planet in our Solar System.
The names of five of these new moons are now open to suggestions from the public in a naming contest held by the Carnegie Institute. The IAU, which is responsible for naming astronomical bodies, supports the contest and the IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) has laid out some rules that name suggestions should adhere to. They are as follows:
- Jupiter moons must be named after characters from Roman or Greek mythology who were either descendants or lovers of the god known as Jupiter (Roman) or Zeus (Greek).
- Submissions must be 16 characters or fewer, preferably one word.
- Submissions must not be offensive in any language or to any culture.
- Submissions must not be too similar to the existing names of any moons or asteroids.
- Names of a purely or principally commercial nature are prohibited.
- Names of individuals, places, or events that are principally known for political, military, or religious activities are not suitable.
- Names commemorating living persons are not allowed.
Rules for each individual moon:
- S/2003 J5 (Jupiter LVII) which is retrograde and thus name must be related to Jupiter or Zeus and end in an “e.”
- S/2003 J15 (Jupiter LVIII) which is retrograde and thus name must be related to Jupiter or Zeus and end in an “e.”
- S/2003 J3 (Jupiter LX) which is retrograde and thus name must be related to Jupiter or Zeus and end in an “e.”
- S/2017 J4 (Jupiter LXV) which is prograde and thus name must be related to Jupiter or Zeus and end in an “a.”
- S/2018 J1 (Jupiter LXXI) which is prograde and thus name must be related to Jupiter or Zeus and end in an “a.”
At the conclusion of the contest, Sheppard and his co-discoverers will choose five names from the submitted suggestions that they think best fit the moons. They will submit these names to the WGPSN for approval.
Make sure your proposed name is not already in use:
To submit your suggestion please tweet your suggested moon name to @JupiterLunacy and explain why you picked it using 280 characters or fewer or a short video. Please include the hashtag #NameJupitersMoons.
The contest will be open until 15 April 2019.
The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 13 500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.
- Carnegie press release
- Further details about how the International Astronomical Union names astronomical objects can be found here
- This video details some of the possible Jupiter moon names and can tell you more about how the Jupiter moon-naming process works
Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 06 761
Cell: +49 173 38 72 621