Five Jovian satellites have now been given their official names, just over a year after the announcement of their discovery. The naming process involved a public contest, and the five names chosen for the moons were all taken from suggestions by members of the public.
In July 2018 astronomers announced the discovery of 12 new moons of Jupiter, bringing the total number to 79, more than any other planet in the Solar System. To offer the public a chance to get involved in naming these celestial bodies, the Carnegie Institute launched a contest via Twitter on 21 February 2019, inviting suggestions of names for five of the new satellites.
Alongside the campaign, the IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) provided some rules that the suggestions should adhere to, including that they be names of characters from Roman or Greek mythology who were either descendants or lovers of Jupiter (Roman) or Zeus (Greek).
Following the contest, the discoverers whittled down the suggestions to their five favourite eligible names and submitted them to the WGPSN. On 19 August the WGPSN approved the names, which are as follows:
Eirene (applied to S/2003 J5) — goddess of peace and daughter of Zeus and Themis;
Eirene was a very popular name, with some 16 tweets suggesting it. Naming a Jovian moon after the goddess of peace was appealing to many. The first submission suggesting Eirene was from Quadrupoltensor (@Quadrupoltensor), while the submission that caught the eye of the discoverers came from PaulR (@PJRYYC), a 10-year-old who loves Greek and Roman mythology.
Philophrosyne (S/2003 J15) and Eupheme (S/2003 J3) — granddaughters of Zeus and daughters of Hephaestus and Aglaia;
For Philophrosyne, the winning submissions were from CHW3M Myth Experts (@Chw3mmyths), an 11th-grade history class currently studying Greek and Roman philosophy, Victoria (@CharmedScribe), and Lunartic (@iamalunartic), an account dedicated to moons.
For Eupheme, the winning submission was also from Lunartic (@iamalunartic).
Pandia (S/2017 J4) and Ersa (S/2018 J1) — daughters of Zeus and the Moon goddess Selene. Pandia is the goddess of the full Moon, and Ersa is the goddess of the dew.
The name Pandia was among the most popular suggestions on Twitter. It also inspired the discoverers’ favourite submission of the contest, which came from the Lanlivet School’s Astronomy Club (@emmabray182). They chose Pandia because their school's mascot is a Panda and their local village used to supply bamboo for the Panda at London Zoo.
There were over 20 tweets suggesting naming a Jovian moon Ersa. Being the daughter of a Moon goddess made Ersa seem a very appropriate name for a moon of Jupiter. The first submission suggesting Ersa came from Aaron Quah (@8603103), and the submissions that really stood out to the team were from StSauveur_MoonsProject (@StSauMoons), the 12th grade students of Saint Sauveur High School in Redon, France, the fifth grade at Hillside Traditional Academy in Mission, British Columbia (submitted on their behalf by @mrgrouchypants), and from 4-year-old moon expert Walter who sang a moon song (submitted on his behalf by @Thoreson).
The names are now formally listed in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. Congratulations to everyone who took part in the naming process!
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.
Scott S. Sheppard
Carnegie Institution for Science
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