Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Vulcan Wins Online Vote to Name a Moon

The currently not a planet Pluto turns out to have five moons thanks to the discovery of the additional ones by Dr. Mark Showalter and his team. From this discovery (one in 2011, other in 2012) he decided to hold an online contest to give the internet an opportunity to name the moons. As is the traditional for naming large bodies like moons, the names have to have a strong basis in Greek or Roman mythology. This gave rise to the name Vulcan being suggested as he is the blacksmith god of fire and volcanoes in Roman mythology. Of course to Star Trek fans, Vulcan really refers to the home planet of Spock, last seen getting blown up in Star Trek (2009). The push to name one of the moons Vulcan received a boost when William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy used their twitter accounts to occasionally remind their fans to vote for the name. The result is the name won by a 50,000 margin with Cerberus (three headed dog that guards the gates to the underworld) coming in second. Now the online victory isn't actually the final leg in its journey. The actual naming of the moon has to be approved by the International Astronomical Union and they were pretty clear that astronomers, not Star Trek fans, would make the naming decision. Since Astronomers and Trekkie seems to have a high overlap, well...

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