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Trekkies conquer contest to name Pluto moons

And we have our winners! Two Plutonian moons get new names after nearly half a million votes stream in from the Internet community.

Christopher MacManus
Crave contributor Christopher MacManus regularly spends his time exploring the latest in science, gaming, and geek culture -- aiming to provide a fun and informative look at some of the most marvelous subjects from around the world.
Christopher MacManus
2 min read
With assistance from the Hubble Telescope, Mark Showalter and the SETI Institute discovered P4 in 2011 and P5 in 2012. ESA, and Mark Showalter, NASA

Earlier this month, astronomer Mark Showalter and the SETI Institute asked the Internet to help name two Plutonian moons. The results are in after 450,324 votes from around the world on the Web site Pluto Rocks.

Pending authorization from the International Astronomical Union, the new names for Pluto's smallest moons -- currently called P4 and P5 -- could end up changing to Cerberus and Vulcan.

While voters originally had a chance to select Cerberus (and 11 other names), the name Vulcan came into play after a suggestion from "Star Trek" alum William Shatner, who played the daring James T. Kirk in the original television series.

Vulcan, more commonly known as a race of brainiacs in "Star Trek," made the list since the poll creators had also put out a call for names from Greek and Roman mythology. Since Vulcan originally means the Roman god of fire and smoke (and the nephew of Pluto), it fit within the criteria of allowable names and quickly took off in the poll.

Over the last several weeks, Captain Kirk regularly pumped out tweets to his million-plus followers asking them to vote for Vulcan. In true Spock form, Leonard Nimoy himself tweeted that Vulcan "is the logical choice."

The final tally for Vulcan impresses at 174,062 votes, while Cerberus came in a distant second at 99,432. Showalter noted on the Pluto Rocks voting site that the final designations for P4 and P5 could take two months to get approved. I'd suggest they don't pass on Vulcan, as you really don't want to mess with a horde of angry Trekkies who believe they successfully named an extraterrestrial moon.