Looks like Pluto will have a moon named 'Vulcan'
The votes are in for the SETI Institute's Pluto Rocks Poll, and, thanks in part to William Shatner, Mr. Spock's home planet is a clear winner.
NASA/Hubble Space Telescope/AP
The votes have been tallied and the results are in from the SETI Instituteâ€™sÂ Pluto Rocks Poll: â€śVulcanâ€ť and â€śCerberusâ€ť have come out on top for names for Plutoâ€™s most recently-discovered moons, P4 and P5.
After 450,324 votes cast over the past two weeks, Vulcan is the clear winner with a landslide 174,062 votesâ€¦ due in no small part to a littleÂ Twitter intervention by Mr. William Shatner,Â Iâ€™m sure.
In other wordsâ€¦Â yes,Â the Trekkies have won.
During a Google+ Hangout today,Â SETI InstituteÂ senior scientist Mark Showalter â€” who discovered the moons and opened up the poll â€” talked with SETI astronomer Franck Marchis and MSNBCâ€™s Alan Boyle about the voting results. Showalter admitted that he wasnâ€™t quite sure how well the whole internet poll thing would work out, but heâ€™s pleased with the results.
â€śI had no idea what to expect,â€ť said Showalter. â€śAs we all know the internet can be an unruly placeâ€¦ but by and large this process has gone very smoothly. I feel the results are fair.â€ť
As far as having a name from the Star Trek universe be used for an actual astronomical object?
â€śVulcan works,â€ť Showalter said. â€śHeâ€™s got a family tie to the whole story. Pluto and Zeus were brothers, and Vulcan is a son of Pluto.â€ť
And what can you say when evenÂ Mr. Spock agrees?
The other winning name, Cerberus, is currently used for an asteroid. So because the IAU typically tries to avoid confusion with two objects sharing the same exact name, Showalter said he will use the Greek version of the spelling: Kerberos.
The next step will be to submit these names to the International Astronomical Union for official approval, a process that could take 1â€“2 months.
(Although who knowsâ€¦ maybe Bill can help move that process along as well?)
Read more about the names on the Pluto Rocks ballotÂ here.
Jason Major is a graphic artist fromÂ Rhode IslandÂ now living and working inÂ Dallas, Texas. He writes about astronomy and space exploration on his blogÂ Lights In The Dark, on Universe Today and also onÂ DiscoveryÂ News.
This story originally appeared inÂ Universe Today.
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