A few weeks ago, we made a post notifying fans of a contest to name P4 and P5, two of Pluto’s five moons. These two moons are the only two such objects orbiting the icy dwarf-planet without a name. Names such as Tartarus, Orthrus, Styx, Lethe, Eurydice, and others were considered, but now we have a clear winner.

 

And the winners are? *drum roll please*

 

 

Vulcan and Cerberus

 

The moons haven’t been given the names just yet. This contest was conducted by the SETI Institute and will be presented to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for their consideration. It is my personal opinion that the IAU will probably keep the names, but time will tell. After several weeks the polls closed at midnight on February 25 having collected a total of 450,324 votes.

 

Vulcan:

 

This name was originally put forward by William Shatner (known primarily as Captain Kirk from the original Star Trek series) and is the clear winner having collected 174,062 votes (which is 74,630, or nearly twice, the votes received for Cerberus and about 37% of the total vote).

 

Shatner originally proposed ‘Vulcan’ late in the voting period on his Twitter page, obviously in honor of the home of Kirk’s half-human friend. The name was accepted by SETI officials because Vulcan is the Roman god of fire and thus fits the criteria.

 

As a personal side note, because Vulcan is the god of fire in mythology, Vulcan is an extremely hot planet in the Star Trek Universe, and Vulcanology/Volcanos get their name from the Roman god of fire because of the hot, fiery boom of destruction that explodes from the Earth when mountains erupt, it is my dearest hope that the IAU rejects the name. I think it’s stupid to name a small, very cold moon on the outskirts of our solar system after something so energetic. That concludes my sci-fi rant for the day.

 

 

A rendering of what Pluto may look like on the surface of the icy moon.

 

Cerberus:

 

I don’t know where this name comes from, but considering Pluto is named after the Greek ruler of the underworld, it’s not surprising some clever chap proposed the name Cerberus, the three headed dog in Greek and Roman mythology that guards the gates to the underworld. Cerberus received 99,432 votes, with a slight but comfortable margin over ‘Styx’ which received 87,858 votes.

 

These names, if so accepted by the IAU, will Join Charon, Hydra, and Nix. As a very brief summary, here is a little about the names of these objects:

 

Hydra, from Greek mythology, is the serpent-like critter with several heads; each time you cut off one head two more would grow in its place. Generally, the hydra is a pretty vicious creature that lived in the lake of Lerna, beneath which lied the entrance to the underworld.

 

Nix is named after Nyx, the Greek goddess of the night.

 

Charon is named after the ferryman of Hades in Greek Mythology. His job is to carry souls across the rivers of Styx and Acheron into the underworld.

 

(Do you see how Vulcan is so epically out of place among these names?)

 

I do not know when the IAU is going to officially name P4 and P5, likewise, the voting didn’t specify which moon should be given which name. All we can do is wait and hope Vulcan doesn’t make the cut.

 

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This article was written by: Joshua


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