Exoplanet names and nicknames

It appears the IAU misleads the public by claiming Uwingu was doing something wrong in asking the public to participate in simply nominating names for exoplants. It also misleads in claiming that it’s role in technical nomenclature  given to it by astronomy organizations gives it the all powerful right to decide what anyone may call any object in the universe.

This is as silly as the IAU’s claim that a majority vote among a group of astronomers can instantly convert a planet to a non-planet.

Inevitably some exoplanets will have popular names, i.e nicknames, in addition to the technical names used by astronomy organizations.

5 thoughts on “Exoplanet names and nicknames”

  1. If the IAU wants to be taken seriously, then it should admit the demotion of Pluto at the Prague General Assembly of 2006 was tainted by coercion, disrespect for its own by-laws, and a weak third rung of its new definition, viz., as Earth itself doesn’t “clear its field.” NASA reports we share our orbit with 19,500 asteroids. Uwingu is a great outfit and is well within its rights.

  2. Thank you for a breath of fresh air in this discussion. The IAU was asked in 2009 by a group of planetary scientists to reopen the planet definition debate and refused, leading those astronomers to boycott that year’s General Assembly. It is unbelievable that scientists can resort to an “appeal to authority” as a genuine argument and expect everyone from other scientists to the general public to just go along with this. The IAU has no authority other than that which we grant to it. New information has come to light that should lead to a reopening of the planet definition discussion–Dawn’s revelations about Vesta, the existence of unusual exoplanets with eccentric orbits, new information about Pluto and Eris–yet none of that seems to matter to the IAU, which seems more interested in safeguarding its perceived “authority” than in “safeguarding the science of astronomy,” its perceived mission. This summer, I sent the IAU General Assembly a set of petitions with a request to reopen the planet definition discussion in 2015–and their response indicates they are already precluding this option.

    Interestingly, according to the IAU’s very flawed planet definition, no exoplanets qualify as planets. Why? The IAU definition says that a planet must orbit the Sun, not “a star.”

  3. An organization like the IAU wants to exude an aura of scientific rigor and rationalism. Yet nothing demonstrates subjectivity and arbitrariness better than using a vote to try to settle a scientific issue. Quantum mechanics, relativity, evolution, etc. prove their validity through overwhelming evidence and empirical tests, not by votes. The IAU’s grand proclamations on topics like the definition of planet and the naming of exoplanets only weaken the public’s trust in the objectivity and circumspection of scientific institutions.

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