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William Shatner Hijacks Contest to Name Pluto’s Moon

For the Vulcan home world, or the Roman god of fire, Pluto's new moon may soon be named Vulcan

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A fan dresses up as a Vulcan at the Pheonix Comic Convention. Photo: Gage Skidmore

A few weeks ago, we told you about a contest, put on by the SETI Institute, to help name Pluto’s two recently discovered moons. These small bodies had been bearing the placeholder names P4 and P5, but the Institute was looking for something a little more vibrant. At the time we wrote that though “playful denizens of the internet may have hijacked polls like this one before…strict naming conventions from the International Astronomical Union and the in-house rules that the names must fit the mythology will hopefully prevent any shenanigans.”

That, it turned out, was not the case. Captain James T. Kirk, or rather, William Shatner, says the CBC, went on a mission to have Pluto’s two moons named Vulcan and Romulus—the home worlds of Star Trek’s Vulcan and Romulan races. The proposals fit the SETI Institute’s naming conventions, as both names are also represented in Roman mythology: Romulus is one of the twin founders of Rome, and Vulcan is the roman god of fire and metalworking.

The final tally of the Pluto Rocks! naming poll. Photo: SETI Institute

Romulus was tossed aside as an option as the name was already in use for another stellar body, but Vulcan went on to win SETI’s poll. The runner up was Cerberus. Both names will be submitted by the SETI Institute to the International Astronomical Union, which will have the authority to give the final nod to the naming choice.

More from Smithsonian.com:
Vote on Names for Pluto’s Teeny Moons
Astronomers Find Pluto’s Fifth Moon

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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