Feeds

Give an exoplanet a new name: Fill in this form and hope these astro-boffins pick your $input

Competition to label alien worlds could make you a star

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

You won't be able to give a planet an insulting name to denigrate a politician, but if you're part of the amateur astronomy world, you can help bestow names on exoplanets.

The International Astronomical Union has opened up 305 exoplanets for public input into naming, with public astronomical organisations, or “non-profit astronomy-interested organisations” (the IAU lists high schools and cultural clubs as examples) invited to register and start coming up with names.

The IAU is restricting the name-game to exoplanets discovered before 31 December 2008, on the basis that such planets have been studied well enough that their existence can be considered “confirmed”. That still includes 20 years' worth of discoveries.

Stars that host the exoplanets are also up for naming – 206 of them – except for those that already have common names. Quoting from the site:

“Fomalhaut (alpha Piscis Austrini) is one of the four “royal stars” of ancient Persia, with Aldebaran, Antares, and Regulus; Pollux (beta Geminorum) is the twin brother of Castor, son of Zeus (Jupiter) and Leda, from the ancient Greek and Roman mythologies — the constellation Gemini is named after them (Gemini means twins in latin). Two other stars also have common names: gamma Cephei (Errai, Arabic for shepherd), and iota Draconis (Edasich, Arabic also).”

The general public will be able to vote to rank the names in March 2015 (registration will be required). There are restrictions – for example, trademarks, living individuals and commercial names are excluded, so there will (thankfully) be no “planet Google / Facebook / Starbucks” or the like (nor, we suppose, would Vulture Central make the cut). Individuals, places or events “principally known for political, military or religious activities” are also a no-no.

And only non-offensive names will be accepted, so the Ukrainian astronomers who bought a $10 certificate from the astronomy-supporting Pale Blue Dot project to name a star Putin-Huilo (“Putin is a dickhead”, roughly) won't get anywhere with the IAU.

As the IAU notes, the popular names won't replace the scientific designations of the planets or stars. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?