Can one buy the right to name a planet? IAU responds

Apr 13, 2013

In the light of recent events, where the possibility of buying the rights to name exoplanets has been advertised, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) wishes to inform the public that such schemes have no bearing on the official naming process. The IAU wholeheartedly welcomes the public's interest to be involved in recent discoveries, but would like to strongly stress the importance of having a unified naming procedure.

More than 800 planets outside the Solar System have been found to date, with thousands more waiting to be confirmed. Detection methods in this field are steadily and quickly increasing—meaning that many more exoplanets will undoubtedly be discovered in the months and years to come.

Recently, an organisation has invited the public to purchase both nomination proposals for exoplanets, and rights to vote for the suggested names. In return, the purchaser receives a certificate commemorating the validity and credibility of the nomination. Such certificates are misleading, as these campaigns have no bearing on the official naming process—they will not lead to an officially-recognised exoplanet name, despite the price paid or the number of votes accrued.

Upon discovery, exoplanets and other receive unambiguous and official catalogue designations. While exoplanet names such as 16 Cygni Bb or HD 41004 Ab may seem boring when considering the names of planets in our own Solar System, the vast number of objects in our Universe—, stars, and planets to name just a few—means that a clear and systematic system for naming these objects is vital. Any naming system is a scientific issue that must also work across and cultures in order to support collaborative worldwide research and avoid confusion.

To make this possible, the IAU acts as a single arbiter of the naming process, and is advised and supported by within different fields. As an international scientific organisation, it dissociates itself entirely from the commercial practice of selling names of planets, stars or or even "real estate" on other planets or moons. These practices will not be recognised by the IAU and their alternative naming schemes cannot be adopted.

However, the IAU greatly appreciates and wishes to acknowledge the increasing interest from the general public in being more closely involved in the discovery and understanding of our Universe. As a result in 2013 the IAU Commission 53 Extrasolar Planets and other IAU members will be consulted on the topic of having popular names for , and the results will be made public on the IAU website. Meanwhile, astronomers and the public are encouraged to keep using the existing accepted nomenclature—details of which can be found on the Astronomy for the Public section of the IAU web page, under Naming Astronomical Objects.

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Provided by International Astronomical Union

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User comments : 12

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TheKnowItAll
4.4 / 5 (7) Apr 13, 2013
Anyone capable of landing on an exoplanet and discover its personal character should have the right to name it. That should be enough of an incentive for interstellar travel! LOL
Lurker2358
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 13, 2013
Who would "buy" land on an exoplanet when we haven't even landed a man on Mars?

Lol...
grondilu
2.5 / 5 (4) Apr 13, 2013
Totally legit if you ask me. This organisation is just selling his opinion about how to name a celestial body. If I understand correctly, it just says: "give me some money and I'll recommend any name you want for the name of this planet". Sounds foolish, but harmless.
210
3 / 5 (4) Apr 13, 2013
Anyone capable of landing on an exoplanet and discover its personal character should have the right to name it. That should be enough of an incentive for interstellar travel! LOL

OF COURSE this time, be sure to observe the laws, covenants, traditions, guidelines, and mores, of the local, regional, national, and planetary indigenous lifeforms. But, wait, we do not do that here! It should and WILL be a while before humans beings are humane enough to even leave their houses, forget, Alpha Centaurii!
word-to-ya-muthas
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (3) Apr 13, 2013
Nevermind.

I forget that idiots bought into Bitcoin, which was nothing more than a purely imaginary currency with no connection to an accountable government, agency, or commodity.

So if people would by a Bitcoin, they might well buy "futures" in land grants issued by governments or corporations on as-yet unexplored planets after all. Of course, only the government or corporations capable of delivering people to that planet could actually deliver on the grants. All of their competitors' grants would be invalidated if they are unable to make a claim.

Maybe this would be the way to pay for a Mars colony mission...
210
1 / 5 (2) Apr 13, 2013
Who would "buy" land on an exoplanet when we haven't even landed a man on Mars?

Lol...

Indeed, and I BET they want to get there and take their guns with them! Think it through....and, then, what do you want to bet!?!
word-to-ya-muthas
Sinister1811
2.7 / 5 (7) Apr 13, 2013
Can one buy the right to name a planet? IAU responds


It depends on who's naming these planets. I just don't want to see ridiculous names like 49 Buttcrack c. It's good to have a sense of humour, but these are names that are going to stick for generations. And I'm pretty sure we've used up most of the names in Greek Mythology.
FMA
5 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2013
I guess there are more than enough planets for everyone, in this generation and generations to come, to have their name on it.
Egleton
1 / 5 (4) Apr 14, 2013
It's a fair old hike to these planets. Better take a cut lunch. Perhaps if we can learn not to bounce around in the Higgs field so much we might make a go of it.
Still, It is stupid to go down another gravity well once you have escaped this one. Unless energy is not an issue. For instance if we harness Solid State Nuclear Reactions.
The second very good reason not to go into an alien biosphere is that it will be every microbe for himself. You, brave but foolish adventurer, will be reduced to a unappealing puddle of snot.
Just like in "War of the Worlds". Except that in this tale you would be the Monster from Deep Space.
Lurker2358
3 / 5 (4) Apr 14, 2013
You, brave but foolish adventurer, will be reduced to a unappealing puddle of snot.
Just like in "War of the Worlds". Except that in this tale you would be the Monster from Deep Space.


Not necessarily.

Even on Earth humans only contract a very, very narrow grow of pathogenic viruses and bacteria compared to everything that exists.

Additionally, there's no good reason to think that alien planets necessarily have viruses on them at all. They may viruses, or they may not.
nkalanaga
1 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2013
I'd be more worried about the alien equivalent of fungi. They don't have to "infect" you, and those here on Earth have a habit of eating almost anything organic. I can imagine an alien fungus that would eat your spacesuit, then eat you, while you're still trying to figure out what it was. And, if it lived in the soil, as do many of ours, you might not see it before it was too late...
SleepTech
5 / 5 (1) Apr 15, 2013
I, for one, welcome our Walmartian overlords.