Tech

Results For Pluto Moon Names Are In

By Joann Fan email: j.fan@itechpost.com , Feb 25, 2013 02:41 PM EST

Leonard Nimoy has spoken: Spock believes that Vulcan is the logical name for at least one of Pluto's moons. So does William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series, and tweeted that Vulcan would be a great name. Mark Showalter, lead scientist of the group that discovered Pluto's tiniest satellites, added Shatner's suggestion to the ballot.

Star Trek fans are a large and dedicated group, and they descended on the poll with a fervor that quickly garnered "Vulcan" the top spot, with about 140,000 votes out of 370,000 cast. The International Astronomical Union's rules for naming the moon say that the moon should be named after a Greek or Roman god who has a connection to the underworld (Pluto is the Roman name for Hades, ruler of the underworld). Vulcan is Pluto's nephew, and the second-place name, Cerberus, is a three-headed hound that guards the entrance to Pluto's realm.

Being in first place does not guarantee that the IAU will name the moon after Vulcan, but Showalter would argue its case to the union, as well as Cerberus's if it remains in second place. Cerberus seems like a good fit, but Showalter may have a hard time convincing the IAU that the freezing satellite should be named after the god of fire.

Of course, some real Trek fans would say that the smallest and coldest members of the solar system don't deserve the name, which in the Star Trek canon referred to the toasty, inhabited planet of Spock's birth. "I don't like the name Vulcan for such small and insignificant bodies," a user going by Rtypo wrote to NBC News.

"Any Star Trek fan worth his salt would not name a small icy moon of low significance after a warm planet of great significance to the canon of the Star Trek world," said user plan271A, who mentioned that Shatner is not himself a fan of the series he starred in.

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