A name for 2003 UB313

The discoverers of 2003 UB313 have sent a name to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for approval. Of course, that doesn't mean it will be chosen, but the discoverers managed to successfully suggest Sedna a couple of years ago. Mike Brown (quite rightly) refuses to state the name they have submitted, but he does give clues.

He says that Kuiper belt objects are normally named after some figure in a creation mythology. Most of the existing planets are named after Greek/Roman gods, so that is a starting point. However, an awful lot of those names have been used up for comets/asteroids etc. and are in short supply. Mike says that in the past they have used native American, Inuit and minor Roman gods but they want to expand to different traditions (my emphasis).

So what culture/tradition might they use? Well, the discovery observations were done with the Gemini North telescope, so perhaps they thought they should honour the local traditions by picking a Hawaiian god. Here are some suggestions that may be suitable for a tiny, distant, cold planet:

  • Keawe: a spirit who lived in a vast, empty land, a dark abyss at the beginning of the world.
  • Milu: lord of the spirit world and lord of Ka-pa'a-he'o, where souls who had departed their sleeping or unconscious mortal body might end up if they were not pardoned by their 'aumakua (personal gods) during their wanderings
  • Maui: a demigod who fished the islands of Hawaii from the sea after a little mistake he made on a fishing trip
  • Fetu: (Samoa) god of the night
  • Hikuleo: god of the underworld
I think that Keawe seems the most apt. I don't think it is likely to be Xena, as suggested by the UK national press, as she is a fictional character. How many other planets are named after fictional characters? (Pluto the dog was named after the planet not the other way around). I should stress that these are my own personal thoughts so are no better guesses than anyone else's. If anyone else has any suggestions, add them below.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Tuesday 02nd Aug 2005 (13:37 UTC) | Permalink
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]