Vulcan joins the Ballot

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We have made our first addition to the ballot. 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!

Mr. Shatner’s second suggestion, Romulus, has a bit of a problem because it is already the name of a moon. Romulus, along with his brother Remus, are the names of the moons of the asteroid 87 Sylvia. They were discovered by a team led by my good colleague Franck Marchis, now a senior scientist at the SETI Institute.

Even if you have already voted at plutorocks.seti.org, feel free to return and express your opinion about Vulcan as the name for one of Pluto’s moons.

Vulcan, wearing an exomis (tunic) and pilos (conical hat), c. 1st century AD. (source: Wikipedia)

About Mark Showalter

Planetary astronomer Mark Showalter studies the dynamics of rings and small moons in the Solar System. Known for his persistence in planetary image analysis, Mark's early work with Voyager data led to the discoveries of Jupiter's faint, outer "gossamer" rings and Saturn's tiny ring-moon, Pan. His work with the Hubble Space Telescope starting in 2003 has led to the discoveries of "Mab" and "Cupid," small moons of Uranus now named after characters from Shakespeare's plays. His work also revealed two faint outer rings of dust encircling the planet. More recently, Mark initiated a Hubble observing program focused on Pluto, which has led to the discoveries of two tiny moons still going by their temporary designations "P4" and "P5".

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