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The people have spoken! And by “people,” I mean “William Shatner’s people.” Last week we told you about how the SETI Institute was allowing the public to vote on the official names for two of Pluto’s recently discovered, so-far-unnamed moons. As often happens whenever someone posts a poll online, a group of fans decided to team up to try and overwhelm the vote for their option of choice. In this case, William Shatner used Twitter to call upon his legions, suggesting they write in “Vulcan.” And while Vulcan wasn’t an official option on the list, it should surprise no one that it handily took first place in the voting, with 174,062 votes.
In spite of the sizable lead for Vulcan, it’s unclear at this point if one of Pluto’s moons will actually be saddled with the name of Spock’s homeworld. As we mentioned in our original story, the name still has to be approved by the International Astronomical Union, and Vulcan could theoretically be disqualified for not following the rules. The IAU’s naming conventions for moons of Pluto is that “those that share Pluto’s orbital rhythm take the name of underworld deities.” Hence the official suggestions included names like Orpheus, Styx, and the one that came in second, Cerberus. Hopefully Vulcan won’t be disqualified on a technicality, but you never know.
It could take between one and two months before the IAU officially declares whether Pluto’s P4 and P5 will become Vulcan and Cerberus. Hopefully they’ll have a sense of humor about the whole thing and let the departure from protocol pass. Just do us all a favor and don’t bring any Red Matter anywhere near the place.
So what does everyone’s favorite Vulcan think of the possibility of a new Vulcan in our neck of the woods? Actor Leonard Nimoy says, “If my people were emotional they would say they are pleased.”