Pluto’s Newly Discovered Moon May Be Named Vulcan, Thanks To Capt. Kirk

Two new moons were recently discovered orbiting Pluto, the planet that isn’t a planet anymore, and one of them may end up being named Vulcan thanks to William Shatner:

An online vote to name Pluto’s two newest, itty-bitty moons is over. And No. 1 is Vulcan, a name suggested by actor William Shatner, who played Capt. Kirk in the original “Star Trek” TV series.

Vulcan snared nearly 200,000 votes among the more than 450,000 cast during the two-week contest, which ended Monday. In second place with nearly 100,000 votes was Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guarded the gates of the underworld.

Vulcan was the Roman god of lava and smoke, and the nephew of Pluto. Vulcan was also the home planet of the pointy-eared humanoids in the “Star Trek” shows. Think Mr. Spock.

“174,062 votes and Vulcan came out on top of the voting for the naming of Pluto’s moons. Thank you to all who voted!” Shatner said in a tweet once the tally was complete.

Actor Leonard Nimoy, who portrayed the reason- and logic-based Spock, had this to say in an email to The Associated Press: “If my people were emotional they would say they are pleased.”

Don’t assume Vulcan and Cerberus are shoo-ins, though, for the two tiny moons discovered over the past two years with the Hubble Space Telescope.

The contest was conducted by SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., the research base for the primary moon hunter. The 10 astronomers who made the discoveries will take the voting results into account, as they come up with what they consider to be the two best names.

Come on, though, is there any cooler name than Vulcan? And who’s going to disagree with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock?


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James Joyner says:


  2. Jeremy says:

    They should save Vulcan for the planet they will inevitably find orbiting 40 Eridani A, which is the real life solar system that corresponds to Vulcan in Star Trek (and not Epsilon Eridani, which I said earlier on Twitter.)

  3. rudderpedals says:

    Don’t let it get you down, Cerberus. There’s no name for the planet killer that destroyed the human home world – yet.

  4. In second place with nearly 100,000 votes was Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guarded the gates of the underworld.

    Reference to Mass Effect?

  5. rodney dill says:

    Hoth would be better since it’s so cold out there…. but I understand the desire for a more popular choice and I’m copacetic with that.

  6. anjin-san says:

    It’s the logical thing to do.

  7. Richard Gardner says:

    As for Cerebus, I thought of Jack Chalker’s “Four Lords of the Diamond” series. Cerebus – it’s a dog. Turns out it was a wolf!