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(io9)   Ten weird rules that control how we name the planets   (io9.com) divider line 56
    More: Interesting, planets, dwarf planets, Kuiper Belt, IAU, James Clerk Maxwell, designations, Morningstar  
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6800 clicks; posted to Geek » on 11 Jul 2012 at 7:15 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-07-11 04:49:30 PM
Okay, when are they going to name a planet/planetoid/moon after Christoher Hitchens?
 
2012-07-11 05:14:43 PM
I don't think "stay apolitical" is exactly weird. I really don't want to see some Kuiper belt object being named "Your chance at being wealthy under 0bama is just like this cold and remote rock lol"
 
2012-07-11 05:37:51 PM
How long until they start selling naming rights to corporations?
 
2012-07-11 05:48:30 PM
uranus
 
jbc [TotalFark]
2012-07-11 05:59:53 PM

downstairs: How long until they start selling naming rights to corporations?


Little known fact: the planet after Jupiter was going to be called Nestlé until GM outbid them.
 
2012-07-11 06:00:20 PM
does this include all languages and cultures on earth?
 
2012-07-11 07:10:55 PM

some_beer_drinker: does this include all languages and cultures on earth?


And many that are not from earth...

/Notice that the author really doesn't like Mike Brown....killer of Pluto.
 
2012-07-11 07:33:09 PM
If you want a feature on the Morning Star named in your honor, you'd better not have a todger in tow.

Britspeak?
 
2012-07-11 07:35:40 PM
reads #10

what about mars?!?!

reads #9

oh
 
2012-07-11 07:45:16 PM

downstairs: How long until they start selling naming rights to corporations?


I'm surprised that it's 2012 and scientists are still not required to refer to the Moon as "the Keebler-Microsoft Moon, brought to you by Adidas."
 
2012-07-11 07:48:35 PM
9. Unless it's old politics. Or old gods.

How about Elder Gods?

/Come on, planet Azathoth...
 
2012-07-11 07:59:26 PM
This headline read like one of those "3 Weird Tips Moms Know to Control Belly Fat" headlines on FB.
 
2012-07-11 08:10:28 PM
And here I thought sailor moon named them.
 
2012-07-11 08:20:28 PM

Lanadapter: And here I thought sailor moon named them.


She must not think highly of Pluto then.
 
2012-07-11 08:45:27 PM

Darth_Lukecash:

/Notice that the author really doesn't like Mike Brown....killer of Pluto.


I'm not sure about that. The quote that he used is from Mike Brown's book "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming"

Brown is known by many as the man who killed Pluto, by those who agree or disagree with the situation alike.
 
2012-07-11 08:46:30 PM
As long as we're on it, can we please change the name of Earth to something cooler sounding? Even "Terra" would be better.
 
2012-07-11 08:49:59 PM

taurusowner: As long as we're on it, can we please change the name of Earth to something cooler sounding? Even "Terra" would be better.


Considering the Earth is mostly covered in water, maybe something more aquatic?
 
2012-07-11 08:54:40 PM

1000 Ways to Dye: taurusowner: As long as we're on it, can we please change the name of Earth to something cooler sounding? Even "Terra" would be better.

Considering the Earth is mostly covered in water, maybe something more aquatic?


mal de mer?
 
2012-07-11 08:56:51 PM

downstairs: How long until they start selling naming rights to corporations?


deniselefay.files.wordpress.com
 
2012-07-11 09:01:08 PM
They forgot rule #34.
 
2012-07-11 09:04:31 PM

downstairs: How long until they start selling naming rights to corporations?


So we can see on the 2112 Super Bowl a commercial that says: "I'm going to DisneyPlanet!"
 
2012-07-11 09:06:26 PM
I like the "dead for 3 years" rule.

For public works, parks and places (i.e. non-celestial bodies), I think we should have a 20 year rule. If someone is still worth remembering 20 years later, then great, name something after them.
 
2012-07-11 09:11:05 PM
Hey Mike Brown, Pluto was big enough for your mom.

Personally I want the first M class planet other than Earth to be named Necron. It's moon should be Elanor.

/I'm going to beat a puppy with a baby if that's obscure
 
2012-07-11 09:11:32 PM
FTFA: If you want a feature on the Morning Star named in your honor, you'd better not have a todger in tow.

But I'm a Venus with a penis!
 
2012-07-11 09:31:29 PM
If you want to get your name on something astronomical, lobby for a minor planet. There are still thousands unnamed, and they don't seem to have any particular rules for naming them. You don't even need to be dead.
 
2012-07-11 09:35:18 PM

Bronzed War God: For public works, parks and places (i.e. non-celestial bodies), I think we should have a 20 year rule. If someone is still worth remembering 20 years later, then great, name something after them.


Can't wait to go to Planet Elvis.
 
2012-07-11 09:40:32 PM
Are we going to name a planet Rupert?
 
2012-07-11 10:03:00 PM
There's an asteroid named after Karl Marx. So much for apolitical.
 
2012-07-11 10:03:31 PM
Isn't the Aztec language called Nahuatl, not Aztec?

Anyway, I think they should stick with a specific pantheon for each Solar System. Like Sol should be all Roman. Maybe Alpha Centauri could be Mayan, and Tau Ceti Shinto. I mean, a lot of people still practice Shinto, but from what I've seen of Japan they'd be more flattered than anything else.
 
2012-07-11 10:06:21 PM

Ishkur: Bronzed War God: For public works, parks and places (i.e. non-celestial bodies), I think we should have a 20 year rule. If someone is still worth remembering 20 years later, then great, name something after them.

Can't wait to go to Planet Elvis.


Here ya' go; pack yer bags.
 
2012-07-11 10:13:02 PM

JohnAnnArbor: There's an asteroid named after Karl Marx. So much for apolitical.


Marx wasn't a politician. He was a historian and economist who happened to write a political pamphlet.

/the further from the 20th century we get, the less Marx will be remembered for the Communist Manifesto.
 
2012-07-11 10:26:27 PM

Dwight_Yeast: JohnAnnArbor: There's an asteroid named after Karl Marx. So much for apolitical.

Marx wasn't a politician. He was a historian and economist who happened to write a political pamphlet.

/the further from the 20th century we get, the less Marx will be remembered for the Communist Manifesto.


I think a philosophy used as the justification for killing a few tens of millions qualifies as "political."
 
2012-07-11 10:30:00 PM

gopher321: uranus


I'm sorry gopher321, but astronomers will rename Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all. They'll call it Urectum...
 
2012-07-11 10:39:21 PM

Paris1127: gopher321: uranus

I'm sorry gopher321, but astronomers will rename Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all. They'll call it Urectum...


Urineus
 
2012-07-11 10:43:01 PM

JohnAnnArbor: I think a philosophy used as the justification for killing a few tens of millions qualifies as "political."


Catholicism?
 
2012-07-11 11:03:06 PM

Arkanaut: 9. Unless it's old politics. Or old gods.

How about Elder Gods?

/Come on, planet Azathoth...


Actually, if there WAS a large body in the Kuiper belt, you COULD well name it after Azathoth--not just by planet naming conventions, but by other conventions that specifically apply for naming of Kuiper belt objects (specifically that it has to be a deity that is somehow associated with creation).

Interestingly, there is no requirement that the god in question be from a non-fictional mythology, and there in fact is specific precedent for a Kuiper belt object being named for a fictional deity (specifically, there is a dwarf planet named for the deity of Bokononism as depicted in the Kurt Vonnegut book Cat's Cradle; what makes this especially hilarious is that the first article of faith of Bokononism is that its founder made up all that shiat in the first place and its holy book outright states it's full of useful lies).
 
2012-07-11 11:08:44 PM

flaminio: If you want to get your name on something astronomical, lobby for a minor planet. There are still thousands unnamed, and they don't seem to have any particular rules for naming them. You don't even need to be dead.


Well...yes and no:

a) Kuiper Belt objects (probably the richest source of nameable dwarf planets) do have a specific naming convention--a nameable body in the Kuiper belt that qualifies as a dwarf planet must be named for a deity of creation or beginnings. (Of note, there is such a dearth of Greco-Roman creation deities left that in some cases astronomers are naming them for the Etruscan equivalents; in other cases, they're going towards Egyptian mythos or (especially) mythologies of various indigenous peoples. At least in most cases they're asking for permission in the latter case.)

b) Quite a few of those requirements listed in the article (can't be named for an object while alive and if not notable, can't use a controversial name, etc.) actually apply for all nameable astronomical objects (over 100m), not just planets proper. (About the only exceptions to this are REALLY tiny objects--most of which aren't officially named because they're just too tiny--or comets, which by tradition are named for their discoverers.)
 
2012-07-11 11:12:29 PM

JohnAnnArbor: Paris1127: gopher321: uranus

I'm sorry gopher321, but astronomers will rename Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all. They'll call it Urectum...

Urineus


Uremom
 
2012-07-11 11:15:37 PM

OtherLittleGuy: Okay, when are they going to name a planet/planetoid/moon after Christoher Hitchens?


Has he been dead three years and gained international importance?

//I can answer that for you. No, he's only really well-known in the US and hasn't been republished or reported significantly outside the English language.
 
2012-07-11 11:20:06 PM

optional: Isn't the Aztec language called Nahuatl, not Aztec?

Anyway, I think they should stick with a specific pantheon for each Solar System. Like Sol should be all Roman. Maybe Alpha Centauri could be Mayan, and Tau Ceti Shinto. I mean, a lot of people still practice Shinto, but from what I've seen of Japan they'd be more flattered than anything else.


Well, there's a wee bit of a problem with that:

a) Even in mythologies with a diversity of Beings Of Power (such as Shinto or the ancient Egyptian faith) there are only so many gods and goddesses to name from.

b) There are, on average, thousands if not potentially millions of nameable objects in a solar system--not only do planets get their names, but also dwarf planets larger than 100m across and asteroids and moons.

c) Oftentimes (as noted in the article, and with Kuiper-belt naming which ISN'T noted) astronomers do like to name objects in sorts of "themes" anyways--Kuiper belt objects being associated with creation, Venusian features being associated with goddesses, certain families of asteroids being named after Roman nature spirits, and so on.

d) Even with the conventions we have NOW for EARTH we've run into a bit of a "god name shortage" just for Kuiper belt objects--there are thousands of dwarf planets that have been logged, and a backlog of something like 400 well-documented Kuiper belt dwarf planets awaiting formal naming. There's enough of a dearth of "creation deities" in Greco-Roman mythos that they're turning to creation deities of indigenous peoples and even outright fictional deities at this point (if you want a planet Azathoth, there's a really good chance you COULD get a dwarf planet named that; maybe even after some of the other Elder Gods too).

e) Generally (with the exception of a very few indigenous faith systems where traditional keepers of the ways HAVE been asked for permission and granted it) the decision to keep from naming objects after LIVING faith systems is in part to avoid getting into some very sticky widgets--say, if someone decides to be a real smartass and start naming astronomical bodies after the Abrahamic pantheon. (I can GUARANTEE someone would raise holy hell on naming a dwarf planet Metatron much less Jesus.) Also, even with smaller faith systems, the religious leaders may not wish for their deities to be associated with mundane objects...much less some larger ones (imagine the epic shiatstorm that would be unleashed, for example, if some smartass decided to name a planet after Allah or one of the archangels as depicted in Islam...you already have Wahhabists who are destroying most of Timbuktu because they feel those moderate Sufis are being idolatrous by entombing respected imams).
 
2012-07-11 11:34:42 PM

JohnAnnArbor: I think a philosophy used as the justification for killing a few tens of millions qualifies as "political."


So you feel the same way about Jesus Christ?

/I don't expect you to answer that, as from your response, you're either an idiot, a troll or both.
//your childish view of Marx makes it clear you shouldn't be allow to talk when adults are talking.
 
2012-07-11 11:46:04 PM

taurusowner: As long as we're on it, can we please change the name of Earth to something cooler sounding? Even "Terra" would be better.


Gaia is a well-established alternative. If you are Shinto, anyway.
 
2012-07-11 11:55:44 PM
FTFA: Think about it: every planet in our solar system (save for Earth) is named after a Greco-Roman god or goddess.

Uh...just in English...

Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Romanian, Latin, among others, say otherwise.
 
2012-07-12 12:04:20 AM
Also, why is it named Earth, anyway? Seems like a very random decision.
 
2012-07-12 12:06:11 AM

Great Porn Dragon: flaminio: If you want to get your name on something astronomical, lobby for a minor planet. There are still thousands unnamed, and they don't seem to have any particular rules for naming them. You don't even need to be dead.

Well...yes and no:


OK... from which pantheons are the following objects' names derived?

2309 Mr. Spock
4321 Zero
9007 James Bond
3834 Zappafrank
9518 Robbynaish

Apparently, that last one is named after Robby Naish, creation god of windsurfing:

upload.wikimedia.org
 
2012-07-12 12:21:50 AM

Dwight_Yeast: JohnAnnArbor: I think a philosophy used as the justification for killing a few tens of millions qualifies as "political."

So you feel the same way about Jesus Christ?

/I don't expect you to answer that, as from your response, you're either an idiot, a troll or both.
//your childish view of Marx makes it clear you shouldn't be allow to talk when adults are talking.


If there were a Planet Jesus, I would LOL so hard...
 
2012-07-12 12:40:16 AM

flaminio: Great Porn Dragon: flaminio: If you want to get your name on something astronomical, lobby for a minor planet. There are still thousands unnamed, and they don't seem to have any particular rules for naming them. You don't even need to be dead.

Well...yes and no:

OK... from which pantheons are the following objects' names derived?

2309 Mr. Spock
4321 Zero
9007 James Bond
3834 Zappafrank
9518 Robbynaish

Apparently, that last one is named after Robby Naish, creation god of windsurfing:

[upload.wikimedia.org image 640x426]


With the exception of the asteroid named after Robby Naish, all of these are either:

a) Named after fictional personages (which is acceptable under naming rules for asteroids--and for dwarf planets and planets too; the specific rule re creation gods only applies for Kuiper belt objects, not main-body asteroids)
b) Named after notable persons who had been dead three or more years (in the case of Zero, arguably, and definitely so for Zappafrank)
c) In one case, a real-life pet named for a fictional personage (the aforementioned Mrspock, named for a kitty who was named for a Vulcan) which directly led to a reform of naming conventions for minor planets

Robbynaish may actually have been grandfathered in; the IAU has revised naming rules for main-belt asteroids several times after Robbynaish was named back in 1978. There have been a very few other cases of living persons having asteroids named for them, the most recent being John Stewart and Rafael Nadal, and honestly the IAU is probably going to start cracking down on this (just because of the frivolous nature of some of the other names that are being submitted) and you have a much higher chance of getting a name approved if it is of someone who is dead. :D

I will also note, as an aside, that all the examples you noted are plane-jane "main body asteroids"--that is, asteroids floating around in between Mars and Jupiter (one of these, Ceres, just got upgraded to dwarf planet status). Rules re naming are a little more lax for main-body asteroids, but there are some specific naming rules for a class of asteroids known as "centaurs", and (as noted previously) Kuiper belt objects have their own special naming conventions that are separate from the naming conventions used for main-body asteroids.

Hence the "Yes and no". :D

That said--about the only ways you have of actually having an astronomical body named after you (and I will qualify only a main-body asteroid or comet--not a centaur, not a planet, not a dwarf planet, not a Kuiper belt object, because they have their own naming rules) are the following:

a) Be very famous in a discoverer's country, and have an astronomer who discovered the main-body asteroid name it after you because he's a huge fanboy
b) Be very famous and very dead, and have an astronomer name a main-body asteroid after you
c) Be a well-known fictional character (only pantheistic solipsists need apply)
d) Be a human relative of an astronomer who found a new main-body asteroid (the "naming after pets" got shut down, but there is a recent case of an astronomer who named an asteroid after her daughter)
e) Find a comet and have it named after you :D (By far, out of all of these, the easiest--amateur astronomers find comets every year with backyard telescopes and get immortalised in the heavens :D)
 
2012-07-12 12:56:46 AM
flaminio:

(snip)

And as an addendum, there's actually a pretty simple list of the present rules for naming asteroids and other minor planets:

a) For main-body asteroids and minor planets otherwise unclassifiable: Sixteen letters max, must be pronounceable, must not be a form of advertising or political statement, no pet names, no political or military leaders until 100 years dead, generally encouraged that naming after living persons should be persons notable in the discoverer's home country and/or having advanced astronomy in some way, people/companies/products ONLY notable for business not accepted, submitted names subject to IAU approval

b) For Trojan asteroids (in a 1:1 resonance with Jupiter): Per IAU regs, must be named for personages from the Trojan War, with asteroids at the L4 Lagrangian point named for Greek heroes of the war and asteroids at the L5 point named for Trojan heroes

c) Centaur asteroids, aka Trans-Jovian (but not trans-Neptunian) asteroids not in a resonance with a gas giant: Per IAU regs, these must be named for centaurs in Greek and Roman mythology.

d) Asteroids in a 3:2 resonance with Neptune (often termed "resonant TNOs"): Per IAU regs, these must be named for deities and other mythological beings associated with the underworld. (Interestingly, whilst Satan is out due to the "no controversial names/living religions" rule, the Klingon guardian of the underworld Fek'Ihr is very much available as it doesn't restrict it to Greco-Roman mythology. :D)

e) Classical Kuiper-belt objects (often termed "non-resonant TNOs", and where most dwarf planets live): Per IAU regs, these must be named for deities and other mythological beings associated with creation. (This is where you see a lot of names of indigenous creator beings...and at least one "fictive" deity, too.)

f) Asteroids approaching or crossing Earth orbit: Per IAU regs, must be given mythological names, preferably of a male mythological figure.
 
2012-07-12 01:52:59 AM
The 11th rule should be how big an invasion fleet it can build.
 
2012-07-12 03:33:29 AM
Hey how about we rename our planet to something cool like Hyperion? What do you think sirs?
 
2012-07-12 07:04:58 AM

rocky_howard: Also, why is it named Earth, anyway? Seems like a very random decision.


This is something I've always wondered. I mean, was there a global consensus thousands of years ago where everyone agreed to call our world 'Earth?' How was that the name for our world decided upon? Surely different cultures would have had many different names?
 
2012-07-12 09:15:06 AM

Coelacanth: The 11th rule should be how big an invasion fleet it can build.


You mean the one at Solace?
 
2012-07-12 09:17:25 AM

La Mit: rocky_howard: Also, why is it named Earth, anyway? Seems like a very random decision.

This is something I've always wondered. I mean, was there a global consensus thousands of years ago where everyone agreed to call our world 'Earth?' How was that the name for our world decided upon? Surely different cultures would have had many different names?


Seeing that our world is also called Gaia which falls into the Greek mythos. I could see Earth being similar to the fact that we call our Sun the Sun and not Sol.
 
2012-07-12 10:51:54 AM

Great Porn Dragon: flaminio:
And as an addendum, there's actually a pretty simple list of the present rules for naming asteroids and other minor planets:

a) For main-body asteroids and minor planets otherwise unclassifiable: Sixteen letters max, must be pronounceable, must not be a form of advertising or political statement, no pet names, no political or military leaders until 100 years dead, generally encouraged that naming after living persons should be persons notable in the discoverer's home country and/or having advanced astronomy in some way, people/companies/products ONLY notable for business not accepted, submitted names subject to IAU approval.


(lotsa snip)

First, thanks for taking my snark so seriously. Fascinating stuff. I don't really have a problem with however the IAU and MPC name stuff -- if they want to name a minor planet after Eddie Izzard (196000 Izzard) or every member of the Monty Python comedy troupe, that's just fine with me. But it's also good to have rules so we don't end up with 196001 Johanngambolputtydevonausfernschplendenschlittercrasscrenbonfrieddigge rdingledangledongledunglebursteinvonknackerthrasherapplebangerhorowitz ticolensicgranderknottyspelltinklegrandlichgrumblemeyerspelterwasserku rstlichhimbleeisenbahnwagengutenabendbitteeinnürnburgerbratwustlegersp urtenmitzweimacheluberhundsfutgumberabershönedankerkalbsfleischmittler auchervonhautkopftofulm.

Thing with minor planets is that there are just so freakin' many of them (thousands upon thousands remain unnamed) that no coherent set of naming rules can ever name them all (if this even is a desireable goal).

Personally, I wouldn't mind if the MPC opened it up to retail. We all know that buying stars is a scam, but if you could name a minor planet for real for $99.95 (which basically would just get your name in the book and a certificate), I think the MPC could make some serious coin off of that which could be used to benefit astronomy and science in general.
 
2012-07-12 04:28:50 PM

yves0010: La Mit: rocky_howard: Also, why is it named Earth, anyway? Seems like a very random decision.

This is something I've always wondered. I mean, was there a global consensus thousands of years ago where everyone agreed to call our world 'Earth?' How was that the name for our world decided upon? Surely different cultures would have had many different names?

Seeing that our world is also called Gaia which falls into the Greek mythos. I could see Earth being similar to the fact that we call our Sun the Sun and not Sol.


Problem might be that humanity didn't come to grips that it was living on a spinning ball of mud until relatively recently. We didn't know it was a thing to be named until long after the Greeks and long before modern naming conventions could invent something better.

So what we got is a series of inelegant words adopted from the dominant cultures that are better for describing what you're standing on than for describing a planet.
 
2012-07-13 10:57:52 AM

1000 Ways to Dye: taurusowner: As long as we're on it, can we please change the name of Earth to something cooler sounding? Even "Terra" would be better.

Considering the Earth is mostly covered in water, maybe something more aquatic?


Moist?
 
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