Tags: pluto | moons | named | kerberos | styx

Pluto Moons Named Kerberos and Styx, Not Vulcan as Trekkies Asked

Image: Pluto Moons Named Kerberos and Styx, Not Vulcan as Trekkies Asked

By Clyde Hughes   |   Wednesday, 03 Jul 2013 01:02 PM

Some Star Trek fans are hanging their heads in disappointment after the International Astronomical Union announced on Tuesday a decision to name two newly discovered Pluto moons Kerberos and Styx and not the fans' preferred choice of Vulcan.

The spheres, discovered in 2011 and 2012, had gone by the names of P4 and P5 until the astronomers announced that the Pluto moons would be named Kerberos and Styx, NBC News reported.

But the IAU suggested that Star Trek fans were getting greedy, saying that Vulcan is already used in reference to a hypothetical planet inside Mercury's orbit, according to NBC News.

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"Although this planet was found not to exist, the term 'vulcanoid' remains attached to any asteroid existing inside the orbit of Mercury," the IAU said in a statement obtained by NBC News. IAU scientists added that the Roman god Vulcan (god of fire and volcanoes) was not closely associated with Pluto, reported NBC.

That was hardly soothing news for Star Trek fans, with Captain James T. Kirk leading the rebellion.

"Star Trek fans have had it rough. First JJ (Abrams, director for the latest 'Trek' reboot) blows up Vulcan and now SETI finds a loophole to deny it from coming back! ... Who'd ever thought I'd be betrayed by geeks and nerds," NBC News said William Shatner tweeted after the decision.

Shatner was then quoted in Wired that he did not know about the other Vulcan destinations.

"What? That’s impossible," He said in Wired, which was posted Tuesday. "I’m going to lead a revolt.”

Scientist Mark Showalter, who discovered the two moons, told Wired that he sympathized with the Star Trek fans but there were plenty of great ideas for names.

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"It’s a disappointment of mine that Vulcan wasn’t approved by the IAU, but there were so many issues around it having to do with its prior use," Showalter said. "I am grateful to the IAU for giving such careful consideration to our suggestions."

Wired reported that 12 names were on the original list, which included Hades, Eurydice, Alecto, and Persephone. Showalter told Wired he added eight more. He said space fans added 30,000 other suggestions, including Stephen and Colbert, Mickey and Minnie, and Potato.

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