The discovery was reported around the globe and was an overnight sensation. Obviously, too, this new heavenly body couldn’t just be called plain old Planet X. It needed a far more romantic name. And, indeed, suggestions about what to call the new planet flooded in from all around the world. Constance Lowell, for one, had a few ideas, but in the end it wasn’t she who christened it. No, the winning submission was to come from across the Atlantic.
It was a Friday morning in March 1930, and at his home in Oxford, England, Falconer Madan read aloud a piece in The Times about the new ninth planet. Listening attentively was his 11-year-old granddaughter, Venetia Burney – and she thought the planet should be called Pluto. In Greek mythology, Pluto is the keeper of the underworld; and Disney’s famous dog came after the planet, as Venetia was keen to point out in later life.