Frequent readers of my blogs may recall back in February I wrote about a contest to name the two newly discovered moons of the planet Pluto (I don't care what the IAU says, Pluto deserves to be a planet). The results are in, but not without a measure of controversy.

The two moons have been named Kerberos and Styx. As the planet furthest from the Sun, Pluto was named for the Roman god of the underworld. The first three moons that were discovered were named Charon (the boatman who ferried the spirits of the dead to the underworld while keeping the living out), Hydra (a multi-headed monster that guarded the entrance to the underworld), and Nyx (the primordial goddess of the night).

And so for that reason, the IAU decided early on that the two new moons, P4 and P5, would be named for mythological characters of the underworld. They were open to different cultures and myths, but it had to relate to the underworld or the land of the dead.

Of the qualifying suggestions, the most votes went to Kerberos, the three headed dog would guarded one of the gates to the Underworld. It is a nice fit with Hydra and Charon, who also are related to guarding the entrances. The second most popular choice was Styx, named for the river that separates the mortal world from the afterlife, and also a good fit with the idea of guardians of the underworld.

However there was controversy in the vote as well. The voting was flooded with write-ins for Vulcan, inspired by the popularity of Star Trek. Vulcan would be a great name for a planet - before being a TV planet Vulcan was also the Roman god of blacksmiths and (to a lesser degree) of fire. Ideally an exoplanet will be soon discovered that is hot and volcanic, and it can be dubbed Vulcan. But in spite of receiving well over 100,000 votes, far above any of the acceptable names, the IAU declared that it is not an Underworld character and would not be accepted. (There were also issues due to Vulcan being the name of a proposed planet close the Sun that later was shown to not exist.)

And so the moons are Kerberos and Styx, and the planet Vulcan will have to wait for another day and another discovery.