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Pluto's moons named Styx and Kerberos, despite vote for Vulcan

Sorry, Trekkies! Captain Kirk takes to Twitter to voice disappointment

July 3, 2013 05:57 AM ET

Computerworld - The International Astronomical Union vetoed a public vote to name one of Pluto's two most recently discovered moons Vulcan and named the moons Styx and Kerberos.

Naming a moon after Mr. Spock's home planet of Vulcan on the sci-fi Star Trek franchise, was a popular choice in the Pluto's Rocks contest that was held by the SETI Institute to let the public weigh in on the naming of the moons previously called P4 and P5.

William Shatner, who portrayed Captain James Kirk on the Star Trek television show and movies, launched a campaign to whip up support for the name Vulcan.

Vulcan won the contest with 174,062 votes, ahead of second place Cerberus, which brought in 99,432 votes, and third-place Styx, which drew 87,858 votes.

The International Astronomical Union, which assigns names to celestial bodies, opted to go with the second and third choices, noting that Vulcan is already the name an asteroid in orbit around Mercury.

"They didn't name the moon Vulcan. I'm sad," Shatner tweeted on Tuesday. "Who'd ever thought I'd be betrayed by geeks and nerds?"

The Union announced Tuesday that Pluto's fourth moon, which had been known as P4, is now called Kerberos.

Cerberus is the Roman name for the three-headed dog that guards the entrance to the underworld in classical mythology, but astronomers decided to tweak the name to avoid confusion with an asteroid that has been dubbed 1865 Cerberus.

Pluto's fifth planet, or P5, has been designated Styx, the Greek name for the river separating Earth from the underworld.

Astronomers had known of Pluto's first three moons but the fourth and fifth were recently discovered using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

Pluto's other moons are named Nix, Hydra and Charon.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at Twitter@sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed Gaudin RSS. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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