Former planet, newly reclassified dwarf planet Pluto has two moons in need of names. Their images were captured by the Hubble telescope in 2011 and 2012 and have been referred to simply as P4 and P5. The SETI Institute opened up voting online February 10 to get the opinion of Earthlings. Within 24 hours 75,000 votes had been cast. On February 12, William Shatner better known as Captain Kirk, decided to make it interesting.
Shatner suggested in a tweet they consider adding Vulcan to the list of possible names. Traditionally the names are chosen from Greek mythology and luckily Vulcan is the Roman god of lava and smoke. But most of those voters seem to be more interested in its connection to the beloved sci fi classic television show Star Trek in which Vulcan is the home planet of Mr. Spock
Of course the Twitter world is making their opinion on the subject known. There are three distinct groups in the debate. Shatner and the original Vulcan Leonard Nimoy are for the name. Shatner has been encouraging his more than 1.3 million followers to vote on a daily basis and it has paid off. Vulcan has skyrocketed to over 140,000 votes. The next closest contender Cerberus has a mere 80,000+ votes.
There are two groups against the name. One group believes the name should be reserved for a more significant find, not one of Pluto’s smallest moons. However this would most likely mean Vulcan would not end up in our galaxy but instead in one far far away.
The other group against Vulcan seems to think it is frivolous choice and at least one suggestion would be to honor astronauts with the name instead. That seems unlikely as astronauts names are not used to identify our galaxy’s celestial bodies.
Voting ends noon ET on Monday February 25. It seems unlikely that any of the other suggested names will come close to catching Vulcan. The wining names however will not automatically be declared the names of the two moons. They will be considered but the ultimate decision lies with multiple teams that discovered the moons and each name will need to be agreed upon by all.
Check out some of the Twitter debate in the slideshow above.