Astronomers Ignore People's Pick for Pluto Moon Name

Moons named Styx and Kerberos, despite William Shatner's campaign

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 3, 2013 8:36 AM CDT

(Newser) – Though Star Trek fans (led by William Shatner) overwhelmingly won an online vote to name one of Pluto's recently found moons "Vulcan" earlier this year, the International Astronomical Union has decided against the moniker. It has named the former planet's fourth and fifth moons "Styx" and "Kerberos," instead, Space.com reports. "The IAU gave serious consideration to this name, which happens to be shared by the Roman god of volcanoes," says the poll's sponsor, SETI. "However, because that name has already been used in astronomy, and because the Roman god is not closely associated with Pluto, this proposal was rejected." (The IAU had specified that Pluto's moons had to be named after underworld figures from classical mythology.)

Kerberos is the Greek equivalent of Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guarded the underworld's entrance; it was the second-place winner in the poll, with 100,000 votes to Vulcan's 170,000. Styx, which scored 88,000 votes, is a mythological river that separates the living from the dead. Shatner is not happy with the decision, reports Wired. "Star Trek fans have had it rough. First JJ blows up Vulcan and now SETI finds a loophole to deny it from coming back!" he wrote on Twitter, adding, "Who'd ever thought I'd be betrayed by geeks and nerds?" As a consolation, a rep from SETI says it may name a crater after Captain Kirk, the LA Times reports.

Pluto and three of its five moons.   (AP Photo/NASA, File)
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