Pluto’s new moons officially named Nix and Hydra

Pluto's moons The International Astronomical Union today will confer official names on Pluto’s recently-discovered pair of moons. Along with Charon, Pluto now has three known satellites, all of whose names are thematically liked with Pluto. “Nix”, the middle of the three moons, was originally intended to be “Nyx,” the proper name for Charon’s mother in Greek mythology. However, a Near-Earth Object has already been named “Nyx”, so “Nix” it is. “Hydra”, the outermost known moon, is the name of a mythical guardian of the underworld.

Multiple stories on the event can be found here, here, here, and here.

(Image Credit: NASA and STSci)

It is no accident that ‘N’ and ‘H’ also stand for “New Horizons,” the spacecraft now en route to Pluto, and the first craft ever sent there. New Horizons is due to zoom past Pluto on July 14, 2015.

The two moons, formerly known as P1 and P2, were discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope, and announced last October. Unfortunately, at magnitude 23, they are far too dim to be seen by backyard telescopes.

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