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Friday, 14 August 2015

Public Vote Could Result In Exoplanet Being Named ‘Neil’ After First Man on Moon

Uh, "Neil"....well, it ain't Pluto, Jupiter or Saturn but why not "Colin" (no idea why!)?

Voting to name a series of planets and stars outside of our solar system has been opened up to the public for the very first time, and one of them could be named after first man on the moon Neil Armstrong.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) - the body responsible for such things - has launched the NameExoWorlds contest in which the public can have their say on the names of 32 exoplanets and 15 of their host stars.

The exoplanet 51 Pegasi b is in with a good chance of being named after Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong, meaning that it could end up with the rather Earthly name of ‘Neil’.

Discovered in 1995, the historic exoplanet was the first to be spotted orbiting around a sun-like star.
The planet’s star, 51 Pegasi, includes ‘Apollonis’ in its lineup of possible names.

The shortlist was concocted from a wide selection of names submitted to the IAU by astronomy clubs all over the world, before being pared down for the public vote.

The rules ban the use of names of living people or those that are protected by copyright.

Many of the names suggested are nods to sci-fi authors, with other contenders including ‘Life’, astronomer ‘Copernicus’, and the entirely implausible ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’, and ‘Vegetarian’.

As pointed out by New Scientist, a large number of the suggested names are Japanese, no doubt because around a third of the autonomy clubs signed up to the IAU are from Japan.
(Image credit: IAU)

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