Symbols for large trans-Neptunian objects

Calligraphic version | Fixed-width version

Recently, a number of large objects have been discovered in the outer solar system. There has been some debate about whether they are planets or not, but they have caught the public imagination. The IAU is unlikely to give them symbols (if I understand correctly, they have a default "symbol" consisting of their number in a circle) but I wanted them to at least have unofficial symbols.

These symbols were created by me and are not official in any way - I offer them to the public domain.

In creating these symbols I went by the same principles I had used in creating symbols for the other satellites in our solar system - base symbols on the name of the object in the original language of its name, avoid very complex symbols, and attempt to give the symbols a distinct identity from similar letter-forms. For some of the recent dwarf planets, I've worried less about the letter-form and based my symbol on symbols or art traditionally associated with the name or its original culture.

To see these symbols in context with other ones, I've created a list of the largest named objects in our solar system, with a symbol by each object.

Varuna symbol

Varuna

20000 Varuna is a Kuiper Belt object discovered in 2000 by R. McMillan. It was named after the Hindu god Varuna, so I based the symbol on the Devanagari character "Va" (व) and the snake-lasso Varuna is said to carry.


Ixion symbol

Ixion

28978 Ixion is the second largest known Plutino. It was discovered in 2001 by the Deep Ecliptic Survey. It was named after the Greek mythological figure Ixion. My symbol is based on the symbol for Ixion created by astrologer Sandy Turnbull, but uses the Greek letters Iota and Xi (Ι and Ξ) instead of the Roman letters I and X, since Ixion is a Greek figure. It has some similarity to the wheel Ixion was said to be bound to in Hades. Zane Stein also has a very good Ixion symbol, at the same link as above.
Quaoar symbol

Quaoar

50000 Quaoar is a Kuiper Belt object discovered in 2002 by Chad Trujillo and Michael E. Brown. It was named after the Tongva god Quaoar. The Tongva people apparently did not have writing before the arrival of European colonists, so their "native writing system" is the Roman alphabet. I've combined the Roman letter Q with a canoe-like shape. In 2010, I changed this symbol from a curvy version to this angular one to more closely resemble actual Tongva rock art.

A symbol for Quaoar's moon Weywot can be seen at my page of moon symbols.


Sedna symbol

Sedna

90377 Sedna is a trans-Neptunian object discovered in 2003 by Chad Trujillo, Michael E. Brown, and David Rabinowitz. It was named after the Inuit goddess Sedna. In modern Inuktitut Sedna is spelled "sanna" and written ᓴᓐᓇ (graphic: sanna in syllabics). I've combined the Inuktitut syllabary "sa" and "n" characters to make a symbol that might also suggest a leaping seal or fish.
Orcus symbol

Orcus

90482 Orcus is a Kuiper Belt object discovered in 2004 by Chad Trujillo, Michael E. Brown, and David Rabinowitz. It was named after the Roman god Orcus. Orcus was a god of the dead, and may have been the namesake of the orca (also known as the killer whale), so I combined the Roman letters O and R into a symbol that has some resemblance to a skull and to an orca's grin. There is another Orcus symbol, again by Sandy Turnbull, visible at Zane Stein's site.

A symbol for Orcus's moon Vanth can be seen at my page of moon symbols.


Eris symbol

Eris

136199 Eris is a dwarf planet discovered in 2003 by Chad Trujillo, Michael E. Brown, and David Rabinowitz. It was named after the Greek goddess Eris, who is also worshipped by the modern religion Discordianism. After attempting to come up with a symbol based on the classical Eris's Golden Apple, I instead added a crossbar to the Discordian symbol called the Five-Fingered Hand of Eris to suggest an epsilon. I was resisting this idea until "travlr1" suggested using the unadorned Hand of Eris in a posting to the discord_society livejournal community. (There is discussion of other Eris symbols at that link.) After some reflection, I switched to just the Hand of Eris suggested by travlr1.

A symbol for Eris's moon Dysnomia can be seen at my page of moon symbols.


Makemake symbol

Makemake

136472 Makemake (pronounced "mah-keh-mah-keh") is a dwarf planet discovered in 2005 by Michael E. Brown, Chad Trujillo, and David Rabinowitz. It was named after the Rapanui fertility god Makemake. The original writing system of Rapanui, Rongorongo, has not been deciphered - modern Rapanui is written with the Roman alphabet. This symbol resembles both an M and traditional petroglyphs of the face of Makemake, and was designed in collaboration with reader John T Whelan.
Haumea symbol

Haumea

136108 Haumea is a dwarf planet discovered in 2004 by Michael E. Brown's team and in 2005 by J. L. Ortiz's team. It was named after the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth. Hawaiian is written with the Roman alphabet, but since one of Haumea's moons, Hi'iaka, also starts with H I didn't try as hard to include an H in Haumea's symbol. This symbol is a combination and simplification of traditional Hawaiian petroglyphs for "woman" and "childbirth".

Symbols for Haumea's moons Hi'iaka and Namaka can be seen at my page of moon symbols.


Salacia symbol

Salacia

120347 Salacia is a dwarf planet discovered in 2004 by Michael E. Brown's team. It was named after the Greek goddess of salt water, Neptune's wife. This symbol is a stylized hippocamp (mer-horse), based partially on my symbols for the horse-related constellations such as Equuleus and Pegasus. It also includes a lowercase Sigma, for Salacia.

A symbol for Salacia's moon Actaea can be seen at my page of moon symbols.

Smaller versions of images

Varuna symbol
Varuna
Ixion symbol
Ixion
Quaoar symbol
Quaoar
Sedna symbol
Sedna
Orcus symbol
Orcus
Eris symbol
Eris
Makemake symbol
Makemake
Haumea symbol
Haumea
Salacia symbol
Salacia

This page was translated into Portuguese by the Brazilian group Central Nacional de Astrologia. (A number of articles can appear on that page - this one is listed in the dropdown as "Simbolos para grandes objetos trans-Netunianos".)


This page and these graphics by Denis Moskowitz. Last modified Wednesday July 3, 2013. The symbols are given to the public domain and may be used freely, copied, redrawn, critiqued, etc. but please don't claim credit for them.


Other new astro symbols