RANDOM FACT #7 - Planet PLUTO WAS NAMED BY AN 11-YEAR-OLD GIRL FROM ENGLAND




After the discovery of the planet Pluto was made in 1930 by 23-year-old Kansan, Clyde Tombaugh, at the Lowell Observatory, the news made headlines around the globe. The Lowell Observatory, which had the right to name the new object, received over 1,000 suggestions from all over the world, ranging from Atlas to Zymal.

The name Pluto, after the god of the underworld, was proposed by Venetia Burney (1918–2009), a then eleven-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England, who was interested in classical mythology. She suggested it in a conversation with her grandfather Falconer Madan, a former librarian at the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library, who passed the name to astronomy professor Herbert Hall Turner, who cabled it to colleagues in the United States.

The object was officially named on 24 March 1930. Each member of the Lowell Observatory was allowed to vote on a short-list of three: Minerva (which was already the name for an asteroid), Cronus (which had lost reputation through being proposed by the unpopular astronomer Thomas Jefferson Jackson See), and Pluto. Pluto received every vote. The name was announced on 1 May 1930. Upon the announcement, Madan gave Venetia £5 (equivalent to 300 GBP, or 450 USD in 2015) as a reward.

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