This is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. At PhysOrg, we read Worldwide contest to name exoplanets and host stars. They say, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
For the first time, in response to the public’s increased interest in being part of discoveries in astronomy, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is organizing a worldwide contest to give popular names to selected exoplanets along with their host stars. The proposed names will be submitted by astronomy clubs and non-profit organisations interested in astronomy, and votes will be cast by the public from across the world through the web platform NameExoWorlds.
Here’s the website of NameExoWorlds, and these are The Rules for naming “a list of 305 well-characterised exoplanets, discovered prior to 31 December 2008, and their host stars.” Not everyone can participate:
• Only public astronomical organisations (such as Planetariums, Science Centres, Amateur Astronomy Clubs, Online Astronomy platforms) or non-profit astronomy-interested organisations (such as High schools, Cultural clubs) with a proven interest in astronomy, (hereafter “organisations” for short) based in any country, shall be allowed to propose names.
• To suggest names, these organisations must first register on the IAU Directory for World Astronomy website providing their website URL, the organisation’s registration number/certificate/document number testifying its status, and the full name, e-mail and postal address of a contact person.
• The website of the organisation shall demonstrate its activity or interest in astronomy, and a verifiable non-profit status.
And they limit the kinds of names that can be submitted. For example:
• Proposed names should be: 16 characters or less in length. Preferably one word. Pronounceable (in some language). Non-offensive. Not too similar to an existing name of an astronomical object.
• In addition it is not allowed to propose: Names of pet animals. Names of a purely or principally commercial nature. Names of individuals, places or events principally known for political, military or religious activities. Names of living individuals.
• Only names that are not protected by trademarks or other forms of intellectual property claims may be proposed.
Okay, back to PhysOrg:
The intention is that millions of people worldwide will be able to take part in the vote. Once the votes are counted, the winning names will be officially sanctioned by the IAU, allowing them to be used freely in parallel with the existing scientific nomenclature, with due credit to the clubs or organizations that proposed them.
And here’s a little bit more:
The results will be announced at a special public ceremony held during the IAU XXIX General Assembly in Honolulu, USA, 3–14 August 2015.
Other contests may be organized after 2015. In the meantime, stay tuned for announcements about the next steps towards the first NameExoWorlds contest.
Exciting news indeed! To add to the excitement, this humble blog will assume the task of naming Gliese 581g, the non-existent world which the Discovery Institute recently claimed demonstrated the utter worthlessness of science, and about which we wrote Discoveroids Ecstatic Over Astronomy Error.
What an opportunity! Your Curmudgeon immediately thought of naming it “Intelligent Designer,” which should be okay because it’s not the name of anything that exists. Unfortunately, it’s more than 16 letters, and it’s two words, so it doesn’t qualify.
We can’t name it something like “Klinghoffer” or “Casey,” because those are actual individuals. Then we thought of “Discoveroid,” which seems to fit all the rules, but we don’t like it because it’s not sufficiently dignified. And alas, what is obviously the most appropriate name for the planet of the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — is already taken. It’s the seventh planet of our own solar system. So at the moment we’re frustrated.
Perhaps you can help. We welcome your suggestions.
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