That's No Moon, It's a Rock Band

By Kiona Smith-Strickland on at

Last week, classic rock band Styx met the man who named a moon after them - well, sort of. Pluto’s smallest moon, Styx, is really named after a mythological river, in keeping with International Astronomical Union naming conventions. But the SETI institute’s Mark Showalter, who discovered Styx (the moon) in 2012, says he’s been a fan of Styx (the band) for a long time.

“When Pluto’s moon was named, it was for the river Styx, but no kidding, we really had you guys in mind too,” New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern told the band when they visited New Horizons mission control last week.

Tommy Shaw, Lawrence Gowan, and Todd Sucherman dropped by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Maryland last week to tour the control centre, meet the scientists and engineers running the project, and check out some photos of their namesake moon.

That's No Moon, It's a Rock Band

The rock stars and the rocky moon both take their name from the river that, according to ancient Greek myth, separated the realm of the living from the Underworld. It’s a fitting name for Pluto’s moon, since the dwarf planet itself is named for the ruler of the Greek Underworld, and Charon, Pluto’s other moon, bears the name of the ferryman who rowed the dead across the river Styx.

On the other hand, the band members settled on the name because, as guitarist James Young once told Circus magazine, “It was one of the hundred names we tried, and it turned out to be the only one that none of us hated.”

We’ll get a great view of Styx (the moon) when New Horizons makes its long-awaited flyby of Pluto on July 14th. To get a great view of Styx (the band), of course, you’d need to check their tour schedule.