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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: ). I've
combined the Inuktitut syllabary "sa" and "n" characters to make a symbol
that might also suggest a leaping seal or fish.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Smaller versions of images
This page was
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 Thursday April 22, 2010. 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