Dwarf Planet Near Pluto Gets a Name

Reuters, July 20, 2008

A dwarf planet orbiting beyond Neptune has been designated the third plutoid in the solar system and given the name Makemake, the International Astronomical Union said on Saturday.

The red methane-covered dwarf planet formerly known as 2005 FY9 or “Easterbunny” is named after a Polynesian creator of humanity and god of fertility.

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Makemake is just slightly smaller and dimmer than Pluto and was discovered in 2005.

“The orbit is not particularly strange, but the object itself is big, probably about two-thirds the size of Pluto,” said Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology, who discovered and named Makemake (pronounced MAH-keh MAH-keh).

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Brown said the name came to him when he was looking for a mythological god and thought of the South Pacific’s Easter Island. Makemake was the chief god among people who settled the island.

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