Blog Post 13: Pluto was named by an 11 year old girl ?!

The name for the once considered planet, and now dwarf planet was suggested by an 11 year old girl! I wish I could have named a planet in the 5th grade. Venetia Burney of Oxford, England suggested the name for the two dwarf moons of Mars. Deimos and Phobos which mean fear and terror. She suggested the name Pluto and around the same time, the Disney Dog, Pluto appeared around the same time. It is a myth that she had came up with the cartoon dog when really she just named the planet. While the dog did appear in 1930 (the same year the Venetia¬† suggested “Pluto” for the ,then, 9th planet of our solar system, his original name was Rover so a year after the planet was named, the dogs name changed to Pluto.

How did she come up with it?

Apparently her and her family with eating breakfast at the table in 1930 when she came up with the idea while Venetia and her mom were living at her grandfathers house after her father had died. The topic at the table was the discovery of a new planet and Venetia was very familiar with Greek and Roman mythology. She said Pluto would be a good name because Pluto is the God of the underworld, who could make himself invisible and generally dwelt in a place that sunlight doesn’t reach. Her grandfather thought it was such a good name that he immediately suggested to a friend who was a professor of astronomy at the university of oxford. The feedback was obviously positive because that is now the actual name of the planet.

I think this is so amazing. I wish I could have name a planet when I was 11. Now all of the names of newly discovered planets are boring numbers. She had quite the knowledge and imagination!


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