Trekkies Did Not Make it so – Plutos Moons by Kylie Leane
Live long and prosper fellow fanatics of all things fantastical.
As it would seem, the day in which I prance about in my new Star Trek skirt to be the queen of all things nerdy in my neighborhood I learn that alas, we Trekkies have lost a great battle. Despite Vulcan being the top of the people’s choice for one of the newly discovered Plutonian moons, the International Astronomical Union did not name either the fourth or fifth moons after the dearly beloved planet of our Mr. Spock.
The moons, formally known as P4 and P5, were discovered by scientists in 2011 and 2012, individually. On Tuesday their new names were announced.
I can understand why the IAU did not go for Vulcan, though my Trekkie heart is saddened. Pluto’s moons are actually traditionally named after Greek or Roman mythological figures with connections to the underworld. The biggest moon, for example, is Charon, named after the ferryman of the dead and the other two moons are Nix and Hydra, the goddess of the night and the many-headed monster? Whooo…spooky!
So, the new names for P4 and P5 go along with this tradition—which, being a total geek-out with these kinds of things, I totally see why, it’s just cool. I guess you want to know what got the punch over the human voice of lots of Star Trek fans? P5 has the glory of being called Styx—the river at the edge of the underworld, while P4 has been named Kerberos (spelt Cerberus), the three-headed dog that guards the gate of Hades, which lies beyond the Styx (I think I will call this moon Fluffy, because Harry Potter obliterated that poor epic dog in my mind).
But what about our Vulcan, I hear you say? Apparently William Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk in the Original Star Trek TV Show, endorsed the idea of at least getting one of these moons named Vulcan as did Lenard Nimoy, who played Spock. As all us Star Trek fans will know, [Spock] actually comes from Vulcan – he even tweeted about it being the logical choice. https://twitter.com/TheRealNimoy/status/302097769659785216
However, here is something totally new to me – the name Vulcan could apparently not be used because the name is already in use. It refers to a hypothetical planet inside Mercury’s orbit. What? Yeah. Apparently this ‘planet’ does not exist according to the IAU but the term ‘vulcanoid’ is attached to an asteroid that exists inside Mercury’s orbit. That’s actually really neat information that I had no idea about, but there you go space-fans.
Will we ever get to see anything named after our beloved characters or our dear fantasy planets of our dreams? Well, that always remains an open possibility, and hey, the power of the people did not win out this time, but I am sure it will in the future or an alternate reality! The universe is a pretty big place, and there are a lot of things to name out there. Someday, I bet we will get our Vulcan.
Since JJ Abrams blew up the other Vulcan in the reboot (yes, I am still grieving.)