Jonathan Cainer's Zodiac Forecasts

Jonathan Cainer's Astro News
Friday December 28th - edited by Patty Greenall

This week in Astro News:
~ Name that planet ~
~ Other suggestions ~
~ Top 10 names ~
~ Behind the names ~
~ Chart toppers ~

We have been bowled over by your response to our appeal to suggest a name for the new planet discovered by Larry Wasserman and his team of astronomers in Arizona. Well over 1,000 readers have written to Jonathan with ideas. The planet, currently identified only as 2001 KX76, is in a region of the outer reaches of the solar system known as the Kuiper Belt. The frozen rock has a diameter of at least 1,200 kilometers (745 miles). After the main planets, it is now recognised as the largest object in our solar system. The previous title-holder was Ceres, a similar object discovered in 1801 by Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi. Ceres, which lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, has a diameter of about 950 kilometers (590 mil es).

KX76 is four billion miles away, 43 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun. It has an elliptical orbit much like that of its nearest planetary neighbour, Pluto. It is a colossal boulder of rock and ice, probably left over from the formation of the solar system.

It may be year or more before KX76 is officially named. A committee of scientists will eventually meet to discuss proposals. These can come from absolutely anyone - but preference is always given to the ideas of the people who first discovered the planet. Larry Wasserman and his Lowell Observatory colleague Bob Millis have asked to see a selection of suggestions sent to Jonathan.

Here are some other names which caught our eye:
Pan-Horus (Pan, ruler of earth forces; Horus, Egyptian restorer of immortal bodies); Midas, (a golden find); Nephele (the cloud maiden); Chrysaor (winged horse of Greek legend); Aurora (a new dawn of love and caring); Nirvana (enlightenment); Optimus; Zerzura (after a North African oasis); Hero (a classical demi-god); Xenon (from the Greek, meaning something strange); Colossus; Myrmidon (after the Greek warriors who went with Achilles to Troy); Yaro (after Ethiopian god of creation); Prometheus (titan who stole fire from the gods and gave it to mortals); Minerva (goddess of wisdom); Eros (messenger of love); Adamas (Latin for diamond).

Of the jokey suggestions, we liked these: Chunkarockus; YAMTOC (Yes, and more to come!); Fabian (The name came to me when I was in the bath!); Cerrone (My dog’s name - a great influence on my life); Madonna (As she seems to have done most of the things it is suggested the planet can affect!).

Top 10 names
The most popular name, suggested by dozens of readers, is Persephone (wife of Pluto). However, this mythological name has already been allocated to an asteroid. It may be possible to use it for the new planet too, but the asteroid would then have to be renamed!

Several readers also knew the name was taken and suggested Persephone’s alternate names, Kora or Proserpina.

Here are the top ten suggestions which Jonathan will send to Larry wasserman’s team:
1. Kora/ Persephone/ Proserpina
2. Peace
3. Artemis/Phoebe (goddess of wild things)
4. Phoenix
5. Psyche
6. Watermill (among several such names created from discoverers Wasserman and Millis)
7. Hope
8. Enigma
9. Nemesis
10. Decimus (tenth planet)

Behind the names
Objects in the Kuiper Belt are traditionally given mythological names associated with creation. The next largest known KBO (Kuiper Belt Object) is Varuna (diameter 560 miles). It was named after the Indian god of oceans and water. Your choice of name may also be influenced by the fact that the new planet is at 5degrees of Sagittarius.

Chart toppers
The names of 20 readers will be drawn from all those whose suggestions made it to our short list. Each winner will receive a free 2002 chart reading from Jonathan. Winners will be announced early in January.