Feeds

Vulcan? Not on our tiny balls. Pluto moons named Kerberos, Styx

Astronomers anger Shatner and Trekkies by ignoring public vote

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The International Astronomical Union has dissed William Shatner and the public to name Pluto's moons Kerberos and Styx, instead of most-popular moniker Vulcan.

Despite having won the SETI-run Pluto Rocks contest to come up with names for the fourth and fifth - and tiniest - moons of the heavenly body with 174,062 votes, Vulcan was not chosen by IAU as name of either moon. Instead, it went with second-placed Cerberus at 99,432 votes and the third most popular name Styx, which received 87,858 votes.

"They didn't name the moon Vulcan. I'm sad," Shatner, who led the internet campaign to get Vulcan votes, tweeted.

But they didn't even name the moon Cerberus, the Roman name for the three-headed dog that guards the underworld, opting for the Greek spelling Kerberos "to avoid confusion with an asteroid called 1865 Cerberus".

Cerberus and Styx were leading the field before Shatner, who played Captain James T Kirk in Star Trek, suggested Vulcan in honour of Spock's homeworld and Romulus for the Romulans' planet. Romulus was immediately off the cards because the it's already the name of a moon, which along with another moon Remus orbits the asteroid Sylvia.

Vulcan was also deemed potentially difficult because it was the name of a planet thought to exist in an orbit closer to our Sun than Mercury's. Such a world never existed, but the IAU still reckoned it was too confusing.

“Although this planet was found not to exist, the term ‘vulcanoid’ remains attached to any asteroid existing inside the orbit of Mercury, and the name Vulcan could not be accepted for one of Pluto’s satellites,” it said.

But Shatner rightly pointed out that the union had managed to make Cerberus work:

However, that wasn't the only reason the IAU gave for spurning Vulcan. It also pointed out that the name doesn't fit in with Pluto's theme. Pluto was the Greek name for the ruler of the underworld and its other moons relate to the underworld as well - Charon, who ferries souls across the rivers Styx and Acheron, Nix, mother of Charon and goddess of the night and Hydra, the nine-headed monster who guards the underworld.

"To be consistent with the names of the other Pluto satellites, the names had to be picked from classical mythology, in particular with reference to the underworld — the realm where the souls of the deceased go in the afterlife," the IAU said. "Vulcan does not fit into the underworld mythological scheme."

In a Google+ hangout, SETI planetary astronomer Mark Showalter suggested that NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, due to visit the system in 2015, might find a crater somewhere it could name after a Star Trek character. But Shatner was unimpressed with his consolation prize:

®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.