Earlier this week, the scientists responsible for discovering the fourth and fifth moons of Pluto turned to the Internet for names, allowing the public to vote on one of a dozen options, including such titles as Heracles, Erebus, Cerberus, and Persephone. Thanks to the urging of William Shatner, who is perhaps most known for his roll in Star Trek, a thirteen option has been added to the ballot: Vulcan.
Although the first thought when most people hear the word “Vulcan” is the Star Trek race, it is in fact the name of the Roman god of lava and smoke. Even better and more applicable to the situation, Vulcan is also the nephew of Pluto in mythology. Shatner had also suggested another name, Romulus, which is sadly already taken by another moon.
Nevertheless, in an update posted on its official Pluto Rocks! website, the SETI Institute thanked Shatner for his recommendations, and officially updated the ballot to include Vulcan. For those who don’t know, the names given to Pluto’s other moons all have a particular meaning or purpose, and Vulcan would fit right in with them.
Pluto is named after Hades, Greek god of the underworld, a name chosen decades ago by a child named Venetia Burney. Pluto’s largest moon has the befitting name Charon, which is the boatsman who would take the souls of the recently deceased across Styx to Hades’ playground (Styx is one of the names on the ballot, by the way). You can check out the complete list of names on the ballot here, as well their meaning. Once you’ve made your choice, you can cast your vote here.
[via Pluto Rocks!]