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Tiny Pluto moon to be named Vulcan SETI Institute naming contest results

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 03:39 AM

Kirk to Spock: Tiny Pluto moon to be named Vulcan


Michael Winter, USA TODAY9:06p.m. EST February 25, 2013


William Shatner's 'Star Trek' suggestion tops poll to name two moons. SETI cites its mythological link to dwarf planet.


Humans have spoken: One of Pluto's smallest moons will be named Vulcan, the fictional alien world of Star Trek's Mr. Spock, and the mythical god of fire.

The name was suggested, logically, by half-human Spock's thoroughly human commanding officer, Capt. James T. Kirk, aka William Shatner, who trumpeted the winner Monday via Twitter:

174,062 votes and Vulcan came out on top of the voting for the naming of Pluto's moons. Thank you to all who voted! MBB

(For the uninitiated, Shatner's acronymical sign off stands for "My Best, Bill.")

The SETI Institute, which organized the naming, noted that Vulcan is the nephew of Pluto, the ruler of mythical hell. Two weeks ago the institute's Mark Showalter wrote that any connection to the 1960s TV sereis was "purely coincidental, although we can be sure that Gene Roddenberry read the classics." He also thanked Shatner for the suggestion.

Cerberus the mythical multiheaded hound that guards the gates of hell polled second, with nearly 100,000 votes.

Voting ended Monday at noon ET. More than 450,000 people cast ballots for 21 names for the two tiny moons, currently called P4 and P5, which are only about 15 miles to 20 miles in diameter.

P4 was discovered in 2011 and P5 last year, bringing Pluto's lunar total to five. Charon, the largest, was discovered in 1978, and Nix and Hydra in 2005.

Pluto itself was discovered in 1930 as the ninth planet of our solar system, but in 2006 it was reclassified and downgraded to a dwarf, or minor, planet.

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