A campaign by the SETI Institute to involve the public in the naming of two recently discovered moons orbiting the dwarf planet Pluto has resulted in a show of Trekkie power.
William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk during the original 1960s "Star Trek" series and subsequent films, urged fans to suggest "Vulcan" (the home planet of the fictional alien Spock) and "Romulus." While the latter was dismissed (it's already the name of a moon orbiting the asteroid 87 Silvia), officials at SETI did allow Vulcan to join a growing list of 20 other names.
"Vulcan is the Roman god of lava and smoke, and the nephew of Pluto," Mark Showalter of SETI wrote on Feb. 12. "(Any connection to the Star Trek TV series is purely coincidental, although we can be sure that Gene Roddenberry read the classics.) Thanks to William Shatner for the suggestion!"
That suggestion has turned into a surge, with Vulcan currently in first place with somewhere over 140,000 votes. Far behind, and vying for second place, are "Styx" and "Cerberus." The winners will join three of Pluto's other moons — Charon, Nix and Hydra.