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World/National News

February 26, 2013

Capt. Kirk gets love in name-Pluto-moons contest

(Continued)

What’s more, Showalter said in a phone interview, Vulcan is associated with lava and volcanoes, while distant Pluto is anything but hot.

As for Cerberus, an asteroid already bears that name, so maybe the Greek version, Kerberos, would suffice, said Showalter, a senior research scientist at SETI’s Carl Sagan Center.

Styx landed in No. 3 position with nearly 88,000 votes. That’s the river to the underworld.

Pluto’s three bigger moons are Charon, Nix and Hydra.

To be considered, the potential names for the two mini-moons also had to come from Greek or Roman mythology, and deal with the underworld. Twenty-one choices were available at the website http://www.plutorocks.com when voting ended Monday. Of those, nine were write-in candidates suggested by the public, including Shatner’s entry for Vulcan.

Shatner’s second choice for a name, Romulus, did not make the cut. That’s because an asteroid already has a moon by that name — along with a moon named Remus.

And forget the Disney connection.

“We love Mickey, Minnie and Goofy, too,” Showalter informed voters a few days into the voting. “However, these are not valid names for astronomical objects. Sorry.”

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