[UPDATE 5/31/19: GONGGONG IS VICTORIOUS! The people have voted for Gonggong! Now the IAU just has to approve it. Don’t screw it up guys!]
2007 OR10 is a new dwarf planet beyond Eris, and it needs a name. Astronomers are calling on everyone to vote on a name for this celestial body, and the names have been narrowed down to a list of three: Gonggong, Holle and Vili. I am going to explain a bit of my thought process on which one fits the best, and I hope it will be convincing so that you too may cast your vote in favor of Gonggong. First of all we should consider one of the most basic things relating to a planet’s astrological nature: its appearance. You can see it in the picture/campaign poster above (minus Gonggong, the dragon). This is how the astronomers describe 2007 OR10.
…the body is likely a mixture of ice and rock. Near-infrared spectroscopy has revealed that there are large quantities of pure water ice and possibly traces of methane ice on 2007 OR10’s surface. 2007 OR10 has one of the reddest surfaces ever found in the Kuiper belt. It is suspected that its red hue comes from the irradiation of the trace amounts of methane ice on its surface (similar to dwarf planet-sized Quaoar). It is suspected that water ice on 2007 OR10’s surface indicates past cryovolcanism earlier on in the planetesimal’s history where water from the interior coated and froze on the surface.
Mars derived many of its significations from its red color – the color of blood, fire and the associated concepts of violence and passion. Pluto is also unexpectedly red and while it is not singularly associated with violence it is associated with ultimate forces and control (but we also weren’t sure about its color before we sussed out its significations). All we can say about 2007 OR10 from its color is that it may be slightly more malefic (like we needed any more malefics in our solar system!!!)
I have a theory that the natures of the planets are not just deduced from their appearance and divine associations, but also from the behavior and interactions of their planetary periodicities. I outlined my theory here, and I also presented it in the following video:
TL;DW? Essentially, the synodic cycles of Venus and Jupiter cooperatively match up at 24 years before they match up with those of any other planet, so they are a benefic pair. The synodic cycles of Mars and Saturn match up at 30 years unilaterally before they match up with those of any other planet, so they’re a malefic pair. The Sun and Moon’s periods are based off each other, so they’re a pair. Mercury’s cycles match up with all the others at different points, which matches its mercurial reputation, its resistance to definite categorization. Uranus and Neptune share a similar relationship to each other as Mars and Saturn do, meanwhile Uranus and Neptune each individually share relationships to the synodic cycles of Jupiter and Mars respectively. Ceres’s synodic period matches the combination of Venus and Mars periods whereas Pluto’s period matches the combination of Uranus and Neptune’s periods.
So it is with great interest that we should read this about 2007 OR10:
2007 OR10 appears to be in the 10:3 mean motion resonance with Neptune (2007 OR10 completes 3 orbits for every 10 Neptune orbits).
The orbital period of 2007 OR10 is 549.16 years. Multiply that by 3 and you get 1647.48. If you divide that by Neptune’s orbital period of 164.8, you get 9.997, very close to 10 full Neptune orbits with 3 orbits of 2007 OR10. So it checks out. What’s the nature of this 10:3 ratio?
Well, here’s what is looks like.
The red lines track 2007 OR10’s orbit over 26000 years (a full Great Year) from the perspective of Neptune, the small stationary white dot in the 5 o’clock position. We can see that 2007 OR10 has 3 major points of conjunction and opposition with Neptune which gradually rock back and forth over a long time period. This should remind us somewhat of Mercury’s three-fold cycle with the Sun, as well as Venus’s three-fold cycle with Jupiter.
What does it…sound like? Musically this relationship would sound like a a slow triplet rhythm in a decuple measure.
Sort of like a slow waltz against a folk rhythm. Neptune keeps a steady marching pulse while Gonggong interrupts it and syncs with it at unexpected points. I wrote a little piece of music only using these rhythms, so you can kind of get a sense of what it sounds like. I guess you could call it “Neptune and Gonggong”.
The gods on the shortlist are all connected to some element of the planet’s astronomical characteristics. But knowing that the dwarf planet has this particular “3-ness” in relationship to Neptune has me thinking that it should be the one that sounds like they could be a more Mercurial figure to Neptune. Neptune of course in Roman mythology is the god of the ocean. So it should be a god which is sometimes a friend, sometimes an enemy, sometimes cooperative, other times chaotic, in relation to water. I know that’s mixing and matching mythic traditions but eh, nobody cares. Once they’re old enough, gods eventually belong to everyone.
Holle has some superficial connections to the attributes of the 2007 OR10. Here is the description they provided of Holle:
A European winter goddess of fertility, rebirth, and women. Holle makes snow by shaking out her bed. She is a patroness of household crafts especially spinning. She is linked to the Yuletide (winter solstice) season associated with mistletoe and holly, evergreen plants bearing red berries.
Yeah, yeah, the planet’s red and her berries are red, I get it, it’s cute but it’s not terribly convincing. She does freeze water and the planet’s cryovolcanic and that’s pretty cool. But meh.
Vili is probably the one that fits the least. Here’s the description they gave for Vili:
Part of the Æsir, Vili is a Nordic deity. Vili, together with his brothers Odin and Vé, defeated frost giant Ymir and used Ymir’s body to create the universe. Ymir’s flesh and bones were forged into the Earth, with Ymir’s blood becoming the rivers and oceans.
This might be another one inspired by the planet’s ice volcanoes. But then why wouldn’t they have picked Ymir, the frost giant himself rather than Vili, a random sibling of Odin who killed him? Meh.
Gonggong is the clear favorite, as their description should make clear.
Gonggong is a Chinese water god with red hair and a serpent-like tail. He is known for creating chaos, causing flooding, and tilting the Earth.
Red like the planet? Check. Associated with water? Check. Mercurial/mischievous/chaotic relationship with Neptune’s ocean? Check. The god is associated with tilting the Earth, and while the planet has little to do with Earth’s tilt, it’s still worth observing just how crazily tilted 2007 OR10 is to the rest of the Solar System.
Eris is just as crazily tilted and it makes sense since Eris is also closely related to the notion of chaos. The further out we get from the Sun, the more chaotic and less orderly the orbits seem to be, although at this rate we might start running out of chaotic gods!
Gonggong just happens to be a pretty good distillation of several elements of 2007 OR10’s red appearance and behavior in its special resonant relationship to Neptune and in its orbit around the Sun. Plus, a red Chinese dragon of chaos that floods and tilts the Earth is an impossibly cool image. So, please vote Gonggong. The deadline is 11:59 pm PDT on May 10th, 2019. The link to vote is here.