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Japan May Name Most Exoplanets

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posted on Jan, 21 2015 @ 04:55 PM

Remember back in 2013 when I first told you the International Astronomical Union opened up the process of giving common names to exoplanets so they'd have something which rolled off the tongue better than Gliese 667 C c or Kepler-186 f?

Well that process has entered a stage where names are going to a vote and it turns out that people in Japan seemed more interested than anyone else in getting involved.

From a New Scientist article on the matter:

Who gets to name exoplanets? As efforts to officially christen alien worlds gets under way, it looks like Japanese astronomy fans will get the deciding vote.

Currently, planets outside the solar system are saddled with dull scientific designations like GJ 667 Cc or HD 40307 g. Last year the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the scientific body that oversees cosmic naming rights, announced its NameExoWorlds contest to give the public a chance to choose more evocative names for a handful of exoplanets out of more than 1800 discovered so far.

Rather than allow people to choose names directly, the IAU decided to enlist astronomy clubs and non-profit organisations from around the world to suggest names that would then be put to a public vote. This week the process has entered its first stage, in which the clubs will choose which 20 or so planets from a list of 305 will get names.

New Scientist's analysis of the 365 clubs currently signed up to NameExoWorlds reveals that 121 of them are based in Japan. This far outstrips the number of groups from any other country – the second most-represented nation, the US, only has 27. This suggests that although the whole world will get to vote on exoplanet names, the list of choices may be heavily determined by a single nation.

The IAU's general secretary Thierry Montmerle says they have extended the deadline for clubs to sign up, and hope to get wider participation. "The problem is not, why are there so many Japanese clubs, but rather why they are not more numerous elsewhere," he says. "In the case of the US, for example, the number is unexpectedly low, and for the moment we don't understand why."

You might think there are bigger things to worry about than naming alien worlds, but passions run high among space enthusiasts. In 2013 a public vote to name a newly discovered moon of Pluto after Vulcan, a planet from Star Trek, was overruled by the IAU for violating its naming guidelines, prompting disappointment from Star Trek actor William Shatner.

"Star Trek fans have had it rough. First JJ [Abrams] blows up Vulcan and now [the IAU] finds a loophole to deny it from coming back!" he tweeted.

Meanwhile, US-based start-up Uwingu has started selling the right to submit names for exoplanets, a strategy the IAU has criticised.

It's an issue set to get even more heated as our ability to detect these worlds improves. "Planets are places," says Jason Wright, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University in State College. "No one really cares what a too-faint-to-see star might be called by astronomers, but it's easy to be persuaded that places need names."

"I agree that no country should dominate the naming," says Geoff Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley, who is part of the planet-hunting Kepler space telescope team. "I have always wanted to name each exoplanet with the word for 'peace' in different languages," he says. "Every language would have a voice in the heavens, expressing our greatest quest as a species."

If we ever manage to detect life on another planet, its name, however it is chosen, will go down in history books. Of course, its inhabitants may already have picked a name for it, in which case we would have to choose whether to use ours or thiers. "If, by some cosmic coincidence, aliens have a name for their home world, in the sense that we think of names, and if humans can pronounce it, I'm sure some people will try," says Wright.

My personal opinion is that the IAU should have gone with the original idea to allow anyone to propose names rather than it be limited to astronomy clubs and other non-profits.

A national like Japan has plenty of people who are interested in astronomy and are more apt to join organizations whereas many of the same people in the US "go it alone".

posted on Jan, 21 2015 @ 04:58 PM
Have a planet naming lottery across the world.

I think Pikachu would rock as a planet name!

posted on Jan, 21 2015 @ 05:13 PM
a reply to: JadeStar

Slippery slope that. if we let them name them all they might claim they own them one day, too. Space ship from earth plants flag and the Japanese cay no, we own it cause we named it, nyah.

Lottery sounds good to me. Who cares if some dork calls it planet "Bob".

I doubt it will matter much to the locals what we call their planet anyway.

posted on Jan, 21 2015 @ 06:08 PM
Meh. What's in a name.

Whether a planet is called, for example, Ceti Alpha VI or Ceti Alpha V, who really cares...

...except maybe this guy:

edit on 1/21/2015 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 21 2015 @ 07:39 PM

originally posted by: intrptr
a reply to: JadeStar

Slippery slope that. if we let them name them all they might claim they own them one day, too. Space ship from earth plants flag and the Japanese cay no, we own it cause we named it, nyah.

Chinese government will say that they discovered it back in 1300 according to some map on a scroll.
edit on 21-1-2015 by mbkennel because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 21 2015 @ 08:04 PM
I hope they name a planet Mongo. Emperor Wang and his goulish minions will reak havoc with their sex ray and our hero Flesh Gordon comes to the rescue.

posted on Jan, 21 2015 @ 08:08 PM
I want a Planet Zoidberg. And Planet Leela. And Bender, Fry, Hermes -- In a pinch, can we just name a system the Futurama System, and make a bunch of people really happy?

posted on Jan, 21 2015 @ 09:19 PM
There are enough of them out there that every single person on earth can have one.

Don't you want your very own planet? Your own personal hell hole to do with as you see fit?

What a lonely outpost. I think I prefer planets occupied by lots of people.

posted on Jan, 21 2015 @ 09:52 PM
I think this is a wonderful idea. Imagine planets named Hokusai, Murasaki and Kurosawa.

Or even Subaru, Honda and Toyota.

posted on Jan, 21 2015 @ 09:58 PM
a reply to: intrptr

The planet Bob would be the most mighty planet of them all.

I think this whole setup isn't that bad. Better than the highest bidder naming planets. Welcome to planet Apple, IMF, and if you don't want to get off, you can continue to planet Bill Gates.

posted on Jan, 22 2015 @ 05:08 AM
I'd love for one planet to be named Nibiru. Not after Sitchin's pseudoscientific planet, but after the real term in ancient Babylonian astronomy.

To keep Uranus a company, one of the exoplanets should be named Mianus, after a neighbourhood in Greenwich, Connecticut.


posted on Jan, 22 2015 @ 05:58 PM
I think Mianus would be a great name for some Uranus like planet. It's funny that I though of it too before reading it mentioned here.

What it comes to using names from fiction, many names in fiction are not even orginal. So you can use some of the names but not others? Where you draw the line? Fry, Amy and Hermes are alright but Zoidberg is going too far? Is Zoid alright?

I don't think there should be Nibiru, you would never get any good search results when you look for it.
As could be the case with many other "misleading" names.

posted on Jan, 22 2015 @ 06:33 PM
interesting thread OP !

back in the "olde" days whomever discovered the planet first got to name it

the real picture is probably that almost all exoplanets already have "names" given to them by their residents/occupiers

we dont know much about planet names except what we read on the internet and in books/journals

maybe it can be called fuki or suki something like that

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