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What's wrong with the IAU no vulcan

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


However, the name Vulcan had already been used for a hypothetical planet between Mercury and the Sun. Although this planet was found not to exist, the term "vulcanoid" remains attached to any asteroid existing inside the orbit of Mercury, and the name Vulcan could not be accepted for one of Pluto's satellites (also, Vulcan does not fit into the underworld mythological scheme). Instead the third most popular name was chosen -- Styx, the name of the goddess who ruled over the underworld river, also called the Styx.
After a final deliberation, the IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature and the IAU Committee on Small Body Nomenclature, in charge of naming dwarf planets and their systems, agreed to change Cerberus to Kerberos -- the Greek spelling of the word, to avoid confusion with an asteroid called 1865 Cerberus. According to mythology, Cerberus -- or Kerberos in Greek -- was a many-headed dog that guarded the entrance to the underworld.
The IAU wholeheartedly welcomes the public's interest in recent discoveries, and continues to stress the importance of having a unified naming procedure following certain rules, such as involving the IAU as early as possible, and making the process open and free to all. Read more about the naming of astronomical objects here: http://www.iau.org/public/themes/naming/.
The process of possibly giving public names to exoplanets (see iau1301:http://www.iau.org/public_press/news/detail/iau1301/), and more generally to yet-to-be discovered Solar System planets and to planetary satellites, is currently under review by the new IAU Executive Committee Task Group Public Naming of Planets and Planetary Satellites.

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