The Pluto family as seen by Hubble. Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter (SETI Institute)
The “not a planet” Pluto is quite a place. It even has five moons. The smallest moons formerly named P4 and P5 have been named according to IAU standards.
So let’s welcome Kerberos and Styx, new names for P4 and P5 respectivly.
Kerberos was the three-headed dog of Greek mythology. You could be more familiar with the name Cerberus (I was), either way it is still the hellhound that gaurds the gate of the Underworld.
Styx is the river that formed the boundry between Earth and the Underworld. If one swam the river Styx then good old Keberos prevented them from leaving.
Styx is also a band that can be found on my iPod. Helps me through that 6.5 km run which is part one of the three-part cardio routine I do three times a week. But I digress.
So as you can see in the image the family of Pluto is:
Will there be more moons? Could be, we’ll all find out in 2014 or 15 as New Horizons nears the sytem.
You can see more versions of the Hubble images at Hubblesite.
New Horizons sees Pluto and Charon. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
This pair of unassuming white dots is Pluto and the moon Charon. The image was taken from 550 million miles which is further than we are from Jupiter. Believe it or not, New Horizons was launched in 2006 (19 Jan) and still has nearly two years to go before closest approach. That’s far!
At first glance this might not seem like much but in reality this is a very impressive image. Pluto and Charon are seem clearly seperated for the first time by the New Horizons LOng Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) and then when you consider Charon only being the size of Texas, well need I say more?
The images were taken earlier this month on July 1 and July 3 with an exposure of 0.1 seconds. I consider that a feat unto itself, although I don’t know how many times they tried before they got the exposure correct. Yeah plaentary photography is very difficult here on the ground, I can hardly imagine, but hey that’s what these people do and they are very-very good at it.
So, to read more about this visit the New Horizons webpage.