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

Nebraska and Oklahoma say Colorado's marijuana law is unconstitutional, in a challenge to the law in the Supreme Court. Earlier this month, visitors from Texas smell marijuana at the Breckenridge Cannabis Club.

Two Of Colorado’s Neighbors Sue State Over Marijuana Law

Nebraska and Oklahoma have filed a lawsuit against Colorado with the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that its law legalizing marijuana isn’t constitutional.


An artist's rendering shows the Kepler spacecraft in its new mission profile, called K2. The space telescope has found a new planet outside our solar system.

Once Written Off, Kepler Telescope Finds New Planet

The Kepler space telescope, which cost some $600 million, was feared to be at the end of its useful life in 2013. But NASA says it just found another exoplanet.


An international police force (of puppets) won't be coming to a theater near you, as theaters have reportedly been told not to screen the film Team America, in response to the cancellation of The Interview.

‘Team America’ Is Benched: Won’t Return To Theaters, Reports Say

One day after some U.S. theaters vowed to screen Team America: World Police in the place of The Interview, whose release was canceled, word has emerged that Team America has also been pulled.


A review panel says changes are needed at the Secret Service — along with a better fence at the White House. Here, members of the Secret Service uniformed division stand in front of the White House.

In List Of Changes For Secret Service, A New Fence Comes First

An independent review panel calls for changes ranging from a better fence at the White House to a new approach to training and leadership within the Secret Service.


Navy Petty Officer Jimmy Dial (left) sits with his daughter, Kimberly, beside U.S. Army soldier Henri Blandon and his daughter as the men's wives and the girls' mothers become U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony last month in Ontario, Calif.

Immigration Is Driving Broad Demographic Shifts In U.S., Report Says

An analysis by Pew Charitable Trusts shows that immigrants are increasingly moving from “gateways” such as New York and Texas into states in Middle America.


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