William Shatner's had quite the colorful post-Star Trek career, a career that now includes not only being a spoken word poet but also naming one of Pluto's moons after Spock's home planet, Vulcan. It's probably more accurate to describe Shatner's naming of the celestial body as an accomplishment rather than a career move. The 81-year-old actor and face of the Priceline Negotiator submitted the name as part of an online competition conducted by the SETI Institute which recently discovered two tiny moons orbiting Pluto. With a clue that Pluto's moons traditionally "have names associated with Hades and the underworld" — Vulcan also refers to the Roman god of fire who is also Pluto's nephew — SETI kicked off the campaign two weeks ago. Shatner's submission shot to the top of the list right away. The other winner was Cerberus, the multi-headed dog that guards the gates of the underworld.
That said, it's surprising that Shatner doesn't get asked to do more stuff for folks like SETI or NASA. Recruiting the guy who played James T. Kirk spells instant success for any nerdy astronomy project — if not exactly Seth MacFarlane at the Oscars. At the very least, it's a great way to steal a couple of headlines. This is kind of like a couple of years ago, when Shatner recorded a final wake-up call for the astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery that, of course, began with the words "Space, the final frontier…" Being space dweebs by default, the astronauts surely loved it, and the rest of the world finally got to know that Captain Kirk's voice really was floating above us in space, saying those intriguing lines.
Hey, at the very least, Shatner's naming Pluto's moon after Spock's home planet is a nice way to honor an old friend. Asked by the Associated Press what he thought of the naming scheme, Leonard Nimoy replied in an an email, "If my people were emotional they would say they are pleased."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.