8.06.2005

Planet Shadowfoot?



Out of This World: Magazine Launches Name-the-Planet Initiative

from AFP

Should it be named after a Greek or Roman god? A great scientist or artist? How about calling it after a character in the Star Wars film series? Or your best friend?

The British magazine New Scientist has called on readers to help suggest a name for the solar system's 10th planet, whose discovery was announced last week by a team led by US astronomer Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology.

The new world has been given the provisional designation of 2003 UB313.

But Brown has 10 years in which to think of a catchier name and have it approved by a panel of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Brown, a fan of TV's Warrior Princess, has given the informal name of Xena to 2003 UB313, a frozen orb some 9 billion miles from Earth, New Scientist said on its
website Tuesday.

"But that was our tongue-in-cheek internal name, never intended for public consumption," Brown told the magazine.

Under the IAU's nomenclature guidelines, names should be pronounceable, non-offensive, 16 characters or less in length, and preferably one word. Names should not be too similar to an existing name of a minor planet or natural planetary satellite. In addition, names for persons or events known primarily for their military or political activities are acceptable only after 100 years have elapsed since the person died or the event occurred. Commercial names are not allowed, and the names of pet animals are discouraged.

2 Comments:

Blogger Bob Waters said...

By the rules of the IAU, a non-plutino
Kuiper Belt Object must be named after a deity of creation.

A plutino (a Pluto-like KBO with a similar orbit) would have to be named after a deity of the underworld.

8:10 PM  
Blogger Bob Waters said...

BTW, "Xena" is a joking code-name used among members of Brown's team, not a serious proposal for a name. The other object whose discovery was announced about the same time (and also has been called a planet), 2003 EL61 (the one with the moon often wrongly attributed to 2003 UB313) was similarly called "Santa" by Brown's team, and its moon "Santa's Little Helper!"

Brown's own page on his discovery calls it "Planet Lila," after his own baby daughter.

8:14 PM  

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