Friday, December 18, 2015

Citizen Scientists Name 14 Stars & 31 Exo-Planets

(Image Source: International Astronomical Union)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

This week, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced the final names of stars and planets, outside of our solar system, given by members of the general public from an IAU-sponsored contest in October. This was truly an international contest as 573,242 votes, for the names of the stars and planets included in the contest, were cast from 182 countries and territories. Plaques, commemorating their contribution to science, will be awarded to the citizens who provided the winning name or names.

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). The IAU is responsible for officially naming all stars and planets found by astronomers.

This contest was managed by the International Astronomical Union, established by professional astronomers in 1919, which normally allows the discoverer of a star or planet to name the object. However, as a way to get the public more involved and interested in Astronomy and Space Exploration, the IAU allowed citizen scientists to name a group of recently found celestial bodies.

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 was from this short-list that the public was able to vote. Public voting, naming stars and planets, was completed on October 31, for this IAU project which actually began in 2014..

The IAU Executive Committee Working Group on the Public Naming of Planets and Planetary Satellites over-saw the final stages of the contest and validated the winning names from the public vote. 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.

After extensive deliberations, the IAU did decide to annul the vote for the name of one exo-planet, “tau Bootis,” as the winning name did not conform to IAU rules for the naming of exo-planets. The IAU will organize a separate contest, for the naming of “tau Bootis.”

The new names that were accepted, for the 31 exo-planets and their 14 host stars, came from mythological figures from different cultures and throughout history, famous scientists, fictional characters, ancient cities, and words from by-gone languages.

IAU News Release on the Naming of Exo-Worlds:
Link >>>

Complete List of New IAU-Approved Names of Exo-Worlds (scroll down to near end of page for the complete list): Link >>>

More on Citizen Science Projects:
Link >>>

 Related Blog Posts ---

"Name an Exo-Planet by Oct. 31." 2015 Oct. 14.

Link >>>

"Deadline to Add Name to NASA Mars Lander: Tuesday Night." 2015 Sept. 6.

Link >>> 


"Public: Help Name Pluto & Charon Surface Features, New U.S. Rocket." 2015 March 30.

Link >>>


Schools: Name 5 Craters on Mercury By Jan. 15. 2015 Jan. 11.

Link >>>


"Asteroid Named for Henry Buhl of Buhl Planetarium." 2014 June 26.

Link >>>


"Captain Kirk: Name Pluto Moons 'Vulcan' & 'Romulus'. 2013 Feb. 14.

Link >>>


"Contest to Name Pluto's Newly-Found Moons." 2013 Feb. 12.

Link >>>

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

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