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.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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