Back in February, TrekToday reported that William Shatner‘s campaign to have one of two Pluto moons given the name Vulcan had resulted in a first place finish in the voting, but today comes the news that the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has thumbed its nose at the voters.
Vulcan had finished first in the voting, with 174,062 votes, followed by Cerberus which was second with 99,432 votes.
Instead of using Vulcan as a name, the IAU went with an alternate spelling of Cereberus (Kerberos) and added Styx, which had finished third in the voting.
Vulcan was rejected as a name because there were already too many objects named Vulcan in astronomy, including a class of asteroids, said the IAU. Cerberus was also rejected as an asteroid already bears that name, but an alternate Greek spelling was accepted instead.
“The IAU gave serious consideration to [Vulcan], which happens to be shared by the Roman god of volcanoes,” said SETI officials. “However, because that name has already been used in astronomy, and because the Roman god is not closely associated with Pluto, this proposal was rejected.”
“They didn’t name the moon Vulcan,” said Shatner, via Twitter. “I’m sad. I think they used us for promotional purposes! They’re probably Star Wars fans!”
Not all is lost, however. Space.com reports that craters, mountains and other features to be discovered on the first up-close flyby of Pluto in 2015 may be named after Star Trek characters. “We might have craters called Sulu and Spock and Kirk and McCoy and so on,” said SETI’s Mark Showalter.