… Just one day after astronomers asked Internet users to pick from a list of 12 names for Pluto’s tiniest moons, they added a 13th name — Vulcan — at the urging of Star Trek icon William Shatner.
“Vulcan is the Roman god of lava and smoke, and the nephew of Pluto. (Any connection to the Star Trek TV series is purely coincidental, although we can be sure that Gene Roddenberry read the classics.) Thanks to William Shatner for the suggestion!” discovery team leader Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute wrote Tuesday in an update to the “Pluto Rocks” blog.
You don’t have to be a hard-core Trek fan to know that Vulcan was the fictional home planet of Mr. Spock, the pointy-eared science officer on the original TV series’ Starship Enterprise. Roddenberry was the series’ creator. And long before he became a Priceline pitchman, Shatner played the Enterprise’s skipper, Captain James T. Kirk.
The point of the “Pluto Rocks” balloting, which runs through Feb. 25, is to weigh public sentiment for the naming of Pluto’s two most recently discovered moons, now known as P4 and P5. As the moons’ discoverers, Showalter and his colleagues have the right to recommend formal names for adoption by the International Astronomical Union — and they thought it would be fun to give the general public a non-binding advisory role.
The contest caught Shatner’s eye, and he made a couple of suggestions in a Twitter update: “So what do you think of the idea of naming the two moons of Pluto Vulcan and Romulus? You have mythology, pos[itive] and neg[ative].”
Follow @CosmicLogAny voter can suggest write-in names, as Shatner did, but the names should refer to people, places or things in Greek or Roman mythology that have a connection to the underworld. Right now, the two favored names are Styx (which refers to a major river of the underworld as well as the rock band) and Cerberus or Kerberos (which refers to the underworld’s guard dog as well as the modern-day network protocol).
More than 120,000 votes have been cast already, with less than 5,000 of them going to Vulcan — so Shatner would have to get those Vulcan votes multiplying like Tribbles to catch up to Styx and Cerberus. But that’s not impossible, especially if he puts the word out to his 1.3 million Twitter followers….
I’m voting with Shatner on this one. Vulcan! You in? Lets add our 5,000 per day to his 1.3 million followers.