Nation & World News

New Moon Found Orbiting Neptune, But What To Call It?

By Geoff Brumfiel on July 16th, 2013

Astronomers have found a new moon orbiting the solar system’s outermost planet, Neptune.

The tiny moon, just 12 miles across, was discovered in more than 150 pictures of Neptune taken by the Hubble Space Telescope between 2004 and 2009.

The moon was barely visible in any one photo, but by combining multiple images, astronomer Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., was able to catch it as it flitted around the giant planet once every 23 hours.

The newly discovered moon is the smallest of Neptune’s 14 known moons. For the moment, it’s known as S/2004 N1, but Showalter and his team will soon give it a catchier name. They recently stirred controversy by putting the names of two new moons of Pluto up to an Internet vote. As NPR reported just weeks ago, the runaway winning title, Vulcan, was rejected by astronomy’s international naming police. The rejection came in part because the god Vulcan is unrelated to the underworld, the theme to which Pluto’s moons must adhere.

Trekkies the world over, including William Shatner, mounted a vigorous protest following Vulcangate. Shatner, the original Capt. Kirk, weighed in Monday afternoon on the suggestion that Neptune’s new moon might eventually be named Vulcan. He noted that naming conventions work against Vulcan once again.

Shatner’s right. Vulcan was the Roman god of fire, not a water deity.

Showalter, meanwhile, says that the team wants to let the public vote for the name of Neptune’s new moon too, but the final choice will have to fit with convention. And, he says, it will have to avoid pop-culture references: “Aquaman is not a Greek or Roman character I’m afraid.”

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants celebrates after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win game seven of the 2014 World Series.

Is It Too Early To Call Madison Bumgarner A Legend?

The San Francisco Giants’ pitcher delivered a performance for the ages Wednesday night. And the sports world just can’t stop talking about it.


This undated photo of Eric Frein was released Tuesday by Pennsylvania State Police. Frein, 31, had been sought in connection with September's killing of a state trooper and the critical wounding of another.

Eric Frein, Suspected Of Killing Pennsylvania Trooper, In Custody

Police say Frein opened fire on two state troopers more than a month ago, and they’ve been searching for him since. The Pike County district attorney says he intends to seek the death penalty.


In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, a former Red Cross official says, as many as 40 percent of the organization's emergency vehicles were assigned for public relations purposes. This photo, which shows one of the trucks on Long Island, N.Y., in January 2013, is one example of the many publicity photos taken by the Red Cross.

Red Cross Responds To NPR/ProPublica Report On Storm Response Inefficiencies

An NPR investigation revealed how the emergency organization funneled its resources away from storm victims to create an “illusion of mass care.” The Red Cross tells PBS NewsHour that’s not true.


Sweden Recognizes Palestine, Drawing Sharp Israeli Criticism

Israel’s foreign minister says diplomacy is “more complicated than … furniture from Ikea.” His Swedish counterpart responds that diplomacy, like Ikea furniture, needs “a partner … [and] a manual.”


A 2009 photo of Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who served for 20 years before stepping down this year. He died on Thursday.

Thomas Menino, Boston’s Longest-Serving Mayor, Dies At 71

Described as a hard-nosed, old-school pragmatist, he was diagnosed with cancer shortly after leaving office in January.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments