Naming Pluto and Charon

New Horizons July 14 rendezvous with Pluto catapulted this once planet to stardom. Not only Pluto, her tidy little moon Charon suddenly registered on global consciousness. What to do with the onslaught of New Horizons imagery? Obviously we draw a map and start naming features.

Naming features on Pluto demands a smidgeon of seriousness. Pluto’s characteristics fall into four categories – space missions and spacecraft; scientists and engineers; historic explorers; and underworld locales, beings and travelers.

A portion of the first preliminary map on Pluto.

Lessor known moon Charon is cut some literary slack. Features on Charon fall into 4 slightly whimsical categories – fictional explores and travelers; fictional origins and destinations; fictional vessels; and exploration artists, authors and directors.

View larger. | Preliminary map of Charon. Images via NASA / JHU-APL / SwRI. New Horizons spacecraft.

Mordor Macular refers to the “covering” over Charon’s north pole, Kubrick Mons the “mountain in a moat” that rises high above the landscape without evidence of any impact crater.