New Horizons, NASA’s mission to Pluto, has been “geeking out” labeling all interesting features on the dwarf planet Pluto and its supersized moon Charon with unofficial names, many of which were submitted to the IAU (International Astronomical Union), as they are currently meeting in Honolulu and who can make them official. Not surprisingly, many geek idols from Dr. Who to our own Alice (in the Western Region of Charon, on the right of the image at left) have been proposed. Click here for a fun article on the subject!

Always a local angle. When the (now dwarf) planet was discovered by  Clyde Tombaugh, Venetia Burney (1918-2009, right), who was then 11, suggested the name “Pluto” to her grandfather Falconer Madan, who passed the name along to Herbert Hall Turner, an astronomer with the Royal Astronomical Society. Clyde Tombaugh liked the name because it started with the initials of Percival Lowell, who had predicted the existence of Planet X.

Falconer Madan of Oxford, Librarian of the Bodleian among many other titles, was, of course, a devoted Carrollian. He helped Sidney Herbert Williams revise his A Bibliography of Lewis Carroll (London: The Bookman’s Journal, 1924), the first such, into A Handbook of the Literature of the Rev. C. L. Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) (London: Oxford University Press, 1931), receiving co-author credit, and published a supplement thereto in 1935.

We do hope the name “Alice Crater” will be duly authorized. “Twinkle, twinkle…”