“Vulcan” and “Cerberus” win the poll to name Pluto’s two unnamed moons.


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“Vulcan” and “Cerberus” win the poll to name Pluto’s two unnamed moons. Key quote:

Vulcan was a late addition to the Pluto moon name contenders, and pulled into the lead after Shatner, building on his Capt. James T. Kirk persona, plugged the name on Twitter. Vulcan, the home planet of Kirk’s alien-human hybrid first officer Spock, is not just a fictional world in the Star Trek universe. It is also the name of the god of fire in Roman mythology, and officials at SETI added the sci-fi favorite to the ballot for that reason.

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6 comments

  • mike shupp

    Bad choice, I gotta feel. Cerebrus I can live with == it was a dog, not a hugely important character in classical myths IIRC. Vulan, however, was one of the major Roman gods — the lame blacksmith god, creator of volcanos, patron saint of alchemists, husband to Venus, etc. He deserves to name a major planet — and what will we do now if we find a habitable world at 40 Eridani A?

  • wodun

    Just what we always do call it New Vulcan.

  • Pzatchok

    I totally agree with Mike on this one.

    My two proposals didn’t get close to enough vote though.

    Hypnos and Thanatos, twin brothers and sons of Nix. Nix is already a moon of Pluto.

    I was hoping they would save the name Vulcan for the first positively habitable planet discovered outside out solar system. Just like the Vulcans in Star Trek were the first known to Earth.

  • Dwight Decker

    Since the reigning theme of Pluto’s system is the Underworld, is Vulcan closely associated enough to qualify? Sure, one of his departments is volcanoes, but it seems like a stretch. The IAU still has to approve the final choice of names (the on-line poll isn’t binding and obviously subject to special-interest ballot-box stuffing), and I suspect Vulcan won’t make the cut. Too important a god for a tiny moon, wrong end of the solar system, not associated with Pluto/Hades et al.

    Myself, I’d like to see Cerberus and Styx. Part of the reason is that in 1941, science-fiction writer Edmond Hamilton wrote a pulp series called CAPTAIN FUTURE in which he depicted Pluto as having three moons: Charon, Cerberus, and Styx. This was quite a leap of the imagination because Pluto wasn’t known to have any moons at all until 1978, and then the first Plutonian moon to be discovered was named Charon (reportedly because it resembled the name of the discoverer’s wife as well as being mythologically correct). It isn’t a complete coincidence because Hamilton realized that any Plutonian moons would likely be named after mythological characters associated with Hades, but it’s interesting to see how right he was after all. It’d be really great to see Hamilton go three for three with his long-ago prediction of names for Plutonian moons he didn’t know even existed!

  • mike shupp

    Mr. Decker: I wish I had money or a framed certificate to hand out, because you win the prize for the wonderfully erudite comment on a website that I’ve seen in several years. I’m typing this with my mouth wide open in shock. Speaking as an old Edmond Hamilton fan, thank you!

  • D. K. Williams

    Why bother naming moons of Pluto anymore? If it isn’t a planet, what’s the point?

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