IAU contest to name 20 exoplanets moves forward


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Under pressure from many circles to open up its processes for naming objects in space, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has started a contest to allow non-profits and “registered clubs” to compete to name 20 exoplanets.

Each organisation can submit one naming proposal, for one ExoWorld only. The number of names that need to be submitted depends on which system is selected. For single- and multiple-planet systems, a name for each planet must be submitted, as well as one for the host star. In the 20 ExoWorlds list, five stars already have common names. Consequently, these five stars cannot be considered for public naming. There are 15 stars and 32 planets (47 objects in total) available for naming. The name of the 20 host stars are explained and personal messages from some discoverers are also available here.

To participate in the contest, clubs and non-profit organisations must first register with the IAU Directory of World Astronomy. The deadline for registrations has been extended to 23:59 UTC on 1 June 2015.

You will note that this contest is not open to the public, but to clubs and organizations that the IAU approves. This is typical of the IAU, which wants to retain its power to name everything in space. They are thus keeping this whole process close to the vest and tightly controlled.

In the end it won’t matter, as the names will eventually be chosen by those who go there, or by those who make the discoveries. It would be nice, however, if the IAU would simply recognize this fact.

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