The fictional planet Vulcan – home of Star Trek’s Mr Spock – could soon have a real-life namesake tracing its orbit through our very solar system thanks to the show’s stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
Shatner, who played Captain James T Kirk in the classic sci-fi series, successfully nominated Vulcan for inclusion in a public poll by The Seti Institute which will decide the names of two of Pluto’s newly discovered moons, currently known simply as P4 and P5. Meanwhile, Nimoy, aka starship Enterprise first officer Mr Spock, told his 447,000 Twitter followers “‘Vulcan’ is the logical choice. LLAP”.
The duo’s support seems to have done the trick – with less than three days until the poll closes, Vulcan is way out in front with over 13,000 votes, 5,000 more than its nearest rival.
Mark Showalter of Seti (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) said “Vulcan is the Roman god of lava and smoke, and the nephew of Pluto… Any connection to the Star Trek TV series is purely coincidental” but admitted “We can be sure that [Star Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry read the classics. Thanks to William Shatner for the suggestion!”
In second place in the poll, and looking likely to provide the name for another of Pluto’s moons, is Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guards the gates of Hades in Greek and Roman mythology. Harry Potter fans will also recognise that description from The Sorceror’s Stone, in which the multi-headed canine is called Fluffy – perhaps a slightly less suitable name for a moon.