The sky is full of stars, planets, and moons. It means endless names and designations, and once in a while, it’s handed over to popular vote. The SETI Institute recently invited the public to help choose the names of Pluto’s 4th and 5th moons.
The list of choices includes references to mythology and Greek history and also Vulcan. Yes, that Vulcan. William Shatner proposed the name and fans worldwide jumped all over it. It’s well in the lead, but it doesn’t mean that Spock’s home planet automatically wins the race.
The winners of the vote have to be approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) before the names stick. Mark Showalter, co-discoverer of the moons, will take the top choices to the IAU after voting ends on February 25. However, the IAU has naming conventions to consider; from Universe Today:
“Those that share Pluto’s orbital rhythm take the name of underworld deities,” And the named moons of Charon, Nix & Hydra all follow this convention. Shatner’s case for Vulcan does cite the god as “The nephew of Pluto” in Roman mythology, but anyone who had studied Roman and Greek mythos knows that familial relations can be proven between nearly any given god and/or goddess.”
Vulcan could get in because of a stretched loophole, but by that reasoning so could other names.
Go cast your vote now!