By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
The general public is invited, free-of-charge, to vote on the naming of 20 distant planetary systems, including 15 stars and 32 exo-planets. Unlike the naming of a stadium or concert hall, no one pays money for the official naming rights to stars or planets (despite “star-naming” radio commercials you may have heard over-the-years). Hence, the general public will make the naming decisions regarding these celestial bodies.
This contest is being managed by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), established by professional astronomers in 1919, which is the organization responsible for the official naming of objects beyond the Earth. Normally, the IAU allows the discoverer of a star or planet to name the object.
However, recognizing the public's growing interest in space exploration and astronomical discoveries, the IAU decided to work with Zooniverse, one of the largest citizen-science on-line platforms, to provide this rare opportunity for amateur astronomers, outer space enthusiasts, and any other member of the general public to participate in the naming of exo-planets.
Earlier, 200 proposed names were offered by organizations of amateur astronomers, and organizations of other interested people, from 45 different nations. The IAU reduced those names to a “short-list.” It is this short-list that the public can now vote on.
All public voting must be completed by the end of the month—Deadline: Saturday Evening, 2015 October 31 at 7:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 23:59 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The public can vote by accessing the special IAU Internet web site specifically for this vote (web site link listed at the end of this blog post).
To vote for a name for a celestial object, no special registration is necessary. Each device, computer or smart-phone, is permitted one vote. A special request must be filed if more than one person needs to vote on any one computer or other device. Once a vote is cast, it is final. You can take one vote on each and every object that is to be named in this particular contest.
The winning names will be used as common / popular names for the objects. However, the original scientific designations for each object will remain for use by astronomers and other scientists.
This IAU project began in 2014 and the voting was expected to be completed by the end of the Summer of 2015. However, the deadline was extended until October 31, to ensure everyone has the chance to vote.
In early November, the IAU Executive Committee Working Group on the Public Naming of Planets and Planetary Satellites will oversee the final stages of the contest and validate the winning names from the public vote. The results of this public vote are expected to be announced by the IAU in mid-November.
2014 IAU News Release on the Public Naming of Exo-Planets:
Link >>> http://www.iau.org/news/pressreleases/detail/iau1404/
Vote on Names for Exo-Planets: Link >>> http://nameexoworlds.iau.org/
Related Blog Posts ---
"Deadline to Add Name to NASA Mars Lander: Tuesday Night." 2015 Sept. 6.
"Public: Help Name Pluto & Charon Surface Features, New U.S. Rocket." 2015 March 30.
Schools: Name 5 Craters on Mercury By Jan. 15. 2015 Jan. 11.
"Asteroid Named for Henry Buhl of Buhl Planetarium." 2014 June 26.
"Captain Kirk: Name Pluto Moons 'Vulcan' & 'Romulus'. 2013 Feb. 14.
"Contest to Name Pluto's Newly-Found Moons." 2013 Feb. 12.
Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
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