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If You Named A Planet Recently You Probably Didn't, You Know, Officially Name The Planet

The International Astronomical Union is sitting down with the internet to have a little talk. Just because some kids on the playground say they’ll let you name an exoplanet for $US5 doesn’t mean you should give them $US5. First of all they’re not the boss of you, and second of all they have nothing to do with planet-naming.

Look, the IAU is pretty pleased with itself. You would be too if you were “the single arbiter of the naming process,” because then you would be important and could use words like arbiter. You could also pretend you controlled the universe a little bit. It just makes sense, though, that we can’t all go officially naming whatever we want. That would be confusing for people who are actually trying to do science and refer to these exoplanets for more than just bragging rights.

On the other hand, “the IAU wholeheartedly welcomes the public’s interest to be involved in recent discoveries.” But seriously stop wasting your money, and if you really want to name an exoplanet or star you can refer to the IAU’s Naming Astronomica Objects, which is readily available, but actually involves doing stuff and using existing nomenclature.

Oh, and because the IAU “wishes to acknowledge the increasing interest from the general public in being more closely involved in the discovery and understanding of our Universe,” they’re going to consult with various commissions about using “popular names” for a few exoplanets this year. [IAU via PopSci]

Image credit: Shutterstock/nienora


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