The Planet

The internet is rallying behind the cute new name for baby moons.

by Tod Perry

October 15, 2018
Photo by Bob Familar/Flickr

Can a moon have a moon?

Sounds like the question a precocious kindergartner or a stoned college student may have pondered at some point in their lives.

But it’s actually a question being asked by serious scientists.

Juna Kollmeier at Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California, and Sean Raymond at the University of Bordeaux recently released a study that looked at whether a moon could have a moon.

Their findings suggest that, in most cases, tidal forces would pull the little moon towards the big moon, destroying both in the process. However, they do believe that a small baby moon of about 6 miles in diameter or less could orbit a larger moon.

Researchers believe that four planets in our solar system, including Earth, have moons that are large enough to support a smaller, orbiting moon.


The problem is, if one of these moons is discovered what do we call it? ““IAU [International Astronomical Union] will have to decide!” Kollmeier told Quartz.

Raymond and Kollmeier have a few names of which they approve:

Submoons — Boring!
Moonitos — Sounds like an item on the Taco Bell late-night menu.
Moonettes — Just because it’s smaller, why does that make it female? Huh?
Moooons — How would you even pronounce that? Like a cow? 

But the best by far has to be moonmoons.

Moonmoon sounds like something you’d call a loved one or a pet. Or, possibly, a honeymoon within a honeymoon. “Like, we went to Honolulu, but it was pretty hectic so we took a break over on Kuai, you know, for a little moonmoon.”

If Twitter was allowed to name the moon that orbits a moon, moonmoon would win in a landslide.

Share image by Bob Familar/Flickr

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The internet is rallying behind the cute new name for baby moons.