Public invited to name exoplanets (Wired UK)


The International Astronomical Union has invited the public to
suggest official names for 20 to 30 planets found outside of our
solar system.

It’s just a small selection of the 1800 exoplanets that have
been discovered, all of which bear uninspiring formal names like
‘Gliese 667 Cf’, ‘KOI-3010.01’ or ‘GJ 1214b’. Astronomy clubs
around the world will vote for which of 305 well-studied
 they feel deserve more exciting names.

Once the list has been nailed down, the clubs will be invited to
suggest names for them through citizen science organisation
Zooniverse. But there are strict
. You can’t suggest anything copyrighted, or anything
named after a living person or a person known for political,
military or religious activities. Names of pet animals are also

To suggest a name, you’ll need to be a member of an astronomical
club. Or form one, make a website, and register the group with the
 as soon as possible. “The website of the organisation
shall demonstrate its activity or interest in astronomy, and a
verifiable non-profit status,” the rules dictate.

But you don’t need to be in a club to take part in the public
vote for which name is assigned to which planet, which will take
place in March 2015. If you’ve not bought a 2015 diary yet, then
you can sign up
 to get notified by email when it’s time to vote.

IAU spokesperson Lars Lindberg Christensen told New Scientist: “We see this as a natural
extension of the IAU’s strategy. The IAU has supported the
contribution of the general public in naming various solar system
objects, but it took some time to find out how to deal with the
complexity and magnitude of a global naming process.”

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