It was seven months ago that Mark Showalter and a team of researchers at the SETI Institute discovered two new moon around Pluto. Named P4 and P5 the astronomers decided that the formal names should be open to public selection through a contest.
Starting today the public can vote on names for the new moons at a new web site called Pluto Rocks.
"The Greeks were great storytellers and they have given us a colorful cast of characters to work with," said Mark Showalter, Senior Research Scientist at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. He and the teams of astronomers who made the discoveries will select two names based on the outcome of the voting.
Traditionally, the names of Pluto's moons are derived from Greek or Roman mythology
and are related to the ancient tales about Hades and the Underworld. This comes from a directive of the International Astronomical Union.
The SETI Institute astronomers though are open to public writing-in names as alternates to those you can vote on from the web site. The astronomers will take those name into consideration. However, the International Astronomical Union has final authority over the naming of Pluto's moons.
This afternoon at 2 pm ET Mark Showalter and Hal Weaver will hold a Google+ Hangout to talk about the contest. Viewers can also send in questions via Twitter using the hashtag #PlutoRocks.
Related: SETI Institute Press Release