NASA

An online poll has resulted in a portion of Pluto being informally named Cthulhu in honor of Rhode Island author H.P. Lovecraft's horrifying elder god.

Look, fellow nerds, I get it. You really like Cthulhu. Between tabletop games, plushies and inflatable tentacle beards, you've proven there are few products relating to Lovecraft's calamari-face you won't buy.

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But remember when nerds were better-known for their idiosyncratic intelligence rather than a slavish devotion to merchandise, and for their encyclopedic knowledge of geek culture that the rest of the population is only vaguely cognizant of? Let's use some of that right now.

Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos might be his most popular work, But in the 1931 story The Whisperer in the Darkness, Lovecraft turned more to science-fiction, writing that there was another planet on the edge of our solar system called "Yuggoth."

Pluto was just discovered the year before, and Lovecraft's narrator stakes a claim on the planet in the story.

Astronomers, with a hideous appropriateness they little suspect, have named this thing “Pluto”. I feel, beyond question, that it is nothing less than nighted Yuggoth—and I shiver when I try to figure out the real reason why its monstrous denizens wish it to be known in this way at this especial time.

Other features of Yuggoth include:

  • The alien Mi-go, who like to steal humans' brains and wear their bodies Buffalo Bill-style.
  • Black rivers of pitch that flow under mysterious cyclopean bridges.
  • The outer god Cxaxukluth (his progeny Hziulquoigmnzhah, Ghisguth and Tsathoggua used to live there as well).

Cxaxukluth, however, is not the catchiest name. Let's stick with Yuggoth. The New Horizons probe may not have found any black rivers of pitch (yet), but that dark spot on Charon is worrying.

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Yuggoth, fellow Lovecraft scholars, is the name we should have given to that section of Pluto. It's what Lovecraft would have wanted, right there in his work. Let's keep the name Cthulhu free in case scientists ever discover a sunken city in the South Pacific Ocean made up of bizarre non-Euclidean architecture; for now, let's honor the Lovecraftian canon and give Yuggoth its place on the dwarf planet.