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Lunar Names: Jupiter Moon Naming Contest!

March 25, 2019 Sophie Kihm

by Sophie Kihm

Jupiter has given birth to lunar quintuplets!

That is, five new moons have been discovered on Jupiter and they are currently nameless. The Carnegie Institute and International Astronomical Union are holding a Twitter contest to name the moons. Each of the lunar names nominations must meet their criteria:

Lunar Names Contest Rules

*Jupiter moons must be named after characters from Roman or Greek mythology who were either descendants or lovers of the god known as Jupiter (Roman) or Zeus (Greek).

*Submissions must be 16 characters or fewer, preferably one word.

*Submissions must not be offensive in any language or to any culture.

*Submissions must not be too similar to the existing names of any moons or asteroids.

*Names of a purely or principally commercial nature are prohibited.

*Names of individuals, places, or events that are principally known for political, military, or religious activities are not suitable.

*Names commemorating living persons are not allowed.

Additionally, three of the moons are retrograde, which means their names must end in E, and two are prograde, meaning their names must end in A.

This limits the available options. Most of the Greek and Roman mythological names you can think of have already been used on other planets, moons, or asteroids. To find names that haven’t yet been taken, you have to reach into the depths of mythology and pull out the minor players.

Thankfully, I love a challenge.

Lunar Names Possibilities

After brushing up on my Greek mythology and cross-referencing the lists of asteroid and moon names, I narrowed my list down to twelve stellar suggestions for Jupiter’s moons. Not all of these names roll off the tongue, but at this point Jupiter can’t afford to be picky.

Alcimache: Alcimache was the daughter of Aeacus, making her a granddaughter of Zeus. She’s not a well-known character in Greek mythology—in fact, Alcimache is better known as the surname of Athena.

Angelia: Another one of Zeus’s granddaughters, Angelia is the daughter of Hermes. She’s considered a daemon—one step below full-blown goddess status. Angelia is the deity of messages, tidings, and proclamations. Given the easy spelling and pronunciation, it’s surprising that Angelia hasn’t already been used as a name for a moon or satellite.

Decima: Decima is the Roman name of Lachesis—one of the three Fates. She and her sisters Nona (Clotho) and Morta (Atropos) were responsible for life from birth to death. Decima and Nona controlled birth—Nona spinning the thread of life, and Decima measuring its length, while Morta controlled death by cutting the thread. 

Eileithyia: Eileithyia is Zeus and Hera’s daughter and the Greek goddess of childbirth and midwifery. Greeks would pray to her to increase fertility and protection during birth. Her Roman name, Lucina, is already the name of a minor planet.

Eucleia: Eucleia is a member of the younger Charites—her mother, Aglaea is one of the three Graces. Eucleia is the spirit of glory and positive reputations (such as that of a chaste bride, which she has been depicted as). Her name can also be spelled Eukleia.

Gorgophone: Gorgophone, the queen of Sparta, was born to Andromeda and Perseus. While her name might not be the most beautiful on this list, it does have special significance. Gorgophone means “Gorgon slayer,” and was given to her in honor of her late father, since he killed Medusa, a Gorgon.

Herophile: Herophile was a sea-nymph and the daughter of Aphrodite and Poseidon. Her name means “friend of the heroes.” Herophile was also known as Sibyl because she was an oracle—she predicted Helen of Troy’s role in the fall of Troy.

 Keroessa: Keroessa was the daughter of Io and Zeus and known for her great beauty. Her son Byzas, who was fathered by Poseidon, was said to have founded the city of Byzantium—modern-day Istanbul. Keroessa can also be spelled Ceroessa.

Leucosia: Leucosia was one of the Greek sirens—daughters of the Muses, making them descendants of Zeus. The sirens enchanted sailors with their songs, causing them to crash their ships on the coastline. The island across from the one the Sirens inhabited was named after Leucosia.

Melinoe: Melinoe was Persephone’s daughter, fathered by both Zeus and Hades. Along with Hecate, she is one of the two moon goddesses, which makes Melinoe a very appropriate name for one of Jupiter’s moons. However, she is associated with nightmares, which may be why her name has yet to be used for any nebular objects.

Philophrosyne: Like Eucleia, Philophrosyne belongs to the younger Charites and was a daughter of Aglaea. She is the spirit of welcome, friendliness, and kindness. With thirteen letters and five syllables, Philophrosyne is the longest name on this list. It’s pronounced fil-oh-FRAH-sin-ee.

Xenodice: Xenodice was a princess of Greek mythology. She was the daughter of Minos, the first king of Crete. Xenodice was the last child of eight, and the least notable out of all of her brothers and sisters. Her four oldest siblings, Ariadne, Androgeus, Deucalion, and Phaedra, all have planetary objects named after them.

If you’d like to partake in the lunar names contest, tweet your suggestions to @JupiterLunacy with an explanation for your chosen name. Use the hashtag #NameJupitersMoons, and if you submit one of these names, use #nameberry as well. The contest closes on April 15th.

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