After a public contest, five newly discovered Jovian satellites now have official astronomical names, as announced by the International Astronomical Union on August 26.
Planetary scientist Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC, reported on the discovery of the moons in July 2018, along with seven others. He and his colleagues discovered the moons while searching for a theoretical Nine Planet in orbit beyond Neptune.
The team requested name suggestions for the moons on Twitter. There were some rules, especially that the 79 known moons of Jupiter must be named by descendants or consort of the god Jupiter of Roman mythology, or Zeus in Greek myths. But that didn’t stop people from suggesting the names of their beloved pets.
Here are the winning names:
Pandia: Daughter of Zeus and the moon goddess Selene, Pandia is the goddess of the full moon. One of the groups that entered this name in the contest was the astronomy club of Lanivet Community Elementary School in Bodmin, England, whose pet is a panda.
Ersa: Pandia’s sister, Ersa is the goddess of dew. Several people suggested this name, including the 4-year-old lunar expert Walter, who caught the attention of the judges with a song that listed the largest moons in the solar system in order of size.