During my reseach for Percival’s Planet, I had the great pleasure of being assisted by Antoinette Beiser, Lowell Observatory’s delightful archivist and librarian. She dug up the hefty cache of letters and telegrams sent to Lowell in the days immediately following the announcement of Planet X’s discovery. While Venetia Burney gets a lot of credit for coming up with the name Pluto, she was by no means the only one to think of it – as the following letters and telegrams show!
March 17, 1930
Dr. V.M. Slipher
I have read in the paper the account of the finding of the new planet and being interested I would like to suggest the name of Pluto. I chose this name because I believe this planet is as important as Neptune or Jupiter and deserves the name of the third brother.
Yours very truly,
Ruth van Sickle
Barringer High School
73FN B 23
CA CAMBRIDGE MASS 546P MAR 15 1930
DR V M SLIPHER
LOWELL OBSERVATORY FLAGSTAFF ARIZ
SUGGEST YOU CALL NEW PLANET PLUTO AFTER THE GOD OF UNDERWORLD THE SON OF SATURN AND ONLY REMAINING BROTHER OF JUPITER AND NEPTUNE
4 AU D 32 NL
WORCESTER MASS MAR 15
V M SLIPHER
LOWELL OBSERVATORY, FLAGSTAFF AZ
APPROPRIATE NAME FOR PLANET WOULD BE PLUTO THE VIEWLESS WHO MOVED HITHER AND YON DARK UNSEEN MYSTERIOUS STOP SEE GAYLEYS CLASSIC MYTHS STOP VULCAN SEEMS INAPPROPRIATE NAME FOR COLDEST PLANET
H L BLOOD
Mar. 16, ’30
Mr. Roger Lowell Putnam,
I suggest the name “Pluto” for the new Planet. “Atlas” is inappropriate as are others I have heard. The major planets are all named for the ancient gods. Saturn, the father of the gods, has the most distinctive world and two of his three sons are honored, Jupiter and Neptune, now in all fairness let us give the other, Pluto, his due.
As Pluto was Lord of the dark region of the dead, so this planet so far from the source of light should receive his name. Do not break the beautiful system and catalogue the new world by a name which has no real reason in it and will mean nothing to the future generations. Let us not do something for which we will have to apologize in future.
Geo. P. Kebbe
Coming soon – other letters with other names!