Two tiny moons orbiting the dwarf planet Pluto finally have new names: Styx and Kerberos.
The International Astronomical Union, the organization responsible for naming celestial objects, has approved “Kerberos” and “Styx” as the new monikers for two of Pluto’s moons that were previously called P4 and P5 respectively, but fans of TV’s “Star Trek” might not be too happy about the new names.
The IAU selected the names based on the results of the Pluto Rocks Internet poll sponsored by SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), but the top vote-getter, Vulcan, ultimately wasn’t chosen as a name for one of the tiny moons
Actor William Shatner, who portrayed the Starship Enterprise captain James T. Kirk in the original “Star Trek” TV series, suggested Vulcan (the home planet of the show’s pointy-eared Vulcan people) as a possible candidate, and voters overwhelmingly cast their ballots in favor of it.
In total, nearly 500,000 votes were cast, with about 170,000 of those going to Vulcan alone. In second place was Cerberus with Styx coming in third in the online poll. But for Vulcan, it was not meant to be.
IAU rules states that Pluto’s moons should be named for mythological characters of the underworld in Greek and Roman mythology. Pluto is known as the ruler of the underworld in ancient mythos.
Cerberus, the three-headed dog in Roman mythology, came in a clear second in the Pluto Rocks ballot with nearly 100,000 votes, but IAU officials decided to tweak the name slightly, instead opting to name the moon Kerberos, Cerberus’ equivalent in Greek myth.
The name Styx, the river that separates the living from the dead in ancient myth, garnered about 88,000 votes for a third place finish.