William Shatner thinks Vulcan would be a swell name for Pluto.
This week the astronomers behind the discovery of Pluto’s fourth and fifth moons asked the public to help them name their discovery. Star Trek icon William Shatner obliged the request by tweeting the names he feels would be most befitting.
On February 11, the actor updated his Twitter account with the following:
“So what do you think of the idea of naming the two moons of Pluto Vulcan and Romulus? You have mythology, pos[itive] and neg[ative].”
The Romulus and Vulcan references are instantly recognizable to fans of Star Trek, the much beloved and widely successful series created by Gene Roddenberry. William Shatner is best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk.
An article by SlashGear writes that astronomers liked Shatner’s idea. They promptly added Vulcan to a list of 12 possible names that will be voted on by the public.
Discovery team leader Mark Showalter, of the SETI Institute, updated the official Pluto Rocks! website with the following entry on Tuesday:
“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, although we can be sure that Gene Roddenberry read the classics.) Thanks to William Shatner for the suggestion!”
According to NBC News, the International Astronomical Union gives astronomers the chance to recommend a formal name for their discoveries. Showalter and his colleagues decided to give the public a rare opportunity to participate in the process.
On February 12, William Shatner took to Twitter once again to express his delight about the inclusion of his suggestion:
“Did you hear? They added the name Vulcan to the list of possible names for Pluto’s moons! You did it! I’m so happy.”