Name That Planet! Exoplanet Names Opened to Vote

By Bill Andrews | July 9, 2014 4:21 pm

Artist’s rendering of an exoplanet seen from its moon. Courtesy IAU/L. Calçada

Everyone knows it’s not always cool to follow the rules, and even less cool making sure everyone else does. So it’s not surprising the International Astronomical Union has a bit of a bad rap. First they take away Pluto’s planetary status, then they started grumbling about groups trying to give exoplanets and Martian craters cool new names.

Well, it seems the ol’ IAU’s taken a bit of a chill pill, because it’s just announced a new contest that will allow the public to vote on a set of up to 30 such popular names for exoplanets and their stars.

Putting the “You” in IAU

In a move foreshadowed in a recent story for this very magazine, the IAU will let people to vote on exoplanet system names… but only up to a point. The extrasolar systems under consideration, 305 well-known and thus older (discovered before 2009) stars and their planets, will be narrowed down to 20-30 by non-profit astronomy groups that have previously registered. These groups also get to suggest the names for these “exoworlds,” as the IAU calls them, and then starting in March 2015 anyone can vote on their favorite choices. The winners will be announced at a special ceremony during the next IAU General Assembly meeting in Honolulu in August 2015. (For the full details, and to sign up your group or yourself to vote, go here.)

This isn’t the first time the august IAU has mellowed a little. Last year, the astronomical group chose the names of Pluto’s newest-found moons — Styx and Kerberos — based on an Internet poll. Still, it’s amusing to see exactly how far the organization is willing to relax. The suggested names can’t be longer than 16 characters, can’t be named after living or divisive figures (anyone known for political, military or religious activities), and perhaps least chill of all, can’t be named for a pet animal. Sorry, Laika. The name has to be pronounceable, but only “in some language,” so at least there’s a little leeway for Klingon.

A Star System is Born

So the next time someone says the IAU can’t ever loosen up or have fun, just point them to this 13-month-long heavily regulated and official information-gathering campaign on what the public would like to name certain preselected exoplanetary systems (which will in no way affect official, scientific designations)! Heck, even put like that, it still sounds pretty cool.

I’ve already signed up, and hope to vote for Osiris and Methuselah — that is, HD 209458b and PSR B1620-26 — next year. Any favorites you hope to see in the coming months? Tell us in the comments!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: exoplanets
  • Nick King


    • margaretbthomas

      my Aunty
      Allison recently got a nice 6 month old Jaguar by working from a macbook.this website C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

    • Tiberian

      Though we should save it for an old mega-Earth. Don’t want to use it up too quickly.



  • donna swain tiplady


  • V. A.


  • Tim


  • Kami

    Niburu, Planet X sun

  • randy

    Amberlane -to make my daughters immortal

  • JLou

    Vulcan, Tatooine and Gallifrey — as a blogger I read suggested, in honor of the three shows/movies that inspired so many of us to go into science, technology, engineering and math!

  • Lydia Gregory


  • Vinh nguyễn thế


  • Lisa Layman

    Quantam Leap sounds like a good name

  • ضُّحَى


  • J Favazza

    Bob Dylan–the man should be imortalized everywhere

  • An Thai Le

    Channon Doa , Raxus Prime, Aurora I or something ^^

  • dino


  • Ferdinand Marcos 2.0

    Gotta go with Krypton.



  • zizi


  • Nhavinn O-Nomics


  • ebo leo

    I think you should name the planet “EBO#2” because “I” am “EBO#1”

  • Boothby171

    “Fred.” Because there should be a planet named “Fred.”

  • Roscaneanu Bogdan-Stefan


  • Tyler Francetich


  • Reyzee Imaysay

    NEDLOG :)

  • Reyzee Imaysay

    Or its should be something like Auran :))

    • Ankoaneta

      Is Autolia qualified for you

    • Ori Porat


  • Desiree Hutchings-Penn

    Hoth, Niburu, or Degobah

  • J_R_K

    Let’s call it “Obama.s World”, then send him home. It couldn’t possibly cost any more than his administration already has and in the long run, it might save a few trillion dollars.

    • Andrew

      Good lord, me thinks thou doth protest too much.

      Does your rabid and uninformed partisanship know no bounds?

      Go back to Drudge with this filth.

      • Jerry Stuckle

        Yea, the truth always hurts, doesn’t it?

      • J_R_K

        Obviously there is nothing rabid, partisan, hateful, or even ignorant about your own attitude. If there were, you’c come off like a total, insipid jerk who just can’t handle a little bit of humor. :o)

        Hey, NASA would be glad to have the trillions of dollars it would take to send the pres. to Obama’s World and just think of the leaps and bounds in technology and industry that would result from a challenge like that.. Just trying to help out the scientific community a bit.

        I was just trying to help. What the heck, even the best and the brightest of us can’t be geniuses every day. :o(

        • Andrew

          I prefer my humor to be humorous.

          • J_R_K

            Well, you made me laugh.

            Me thinks thou hast the sense of humor of a rabid badger, and a partisan one at that… a definitive condition of leftists every where who are just angry that others don’t see the world through their polluted spectrum and capitulate to their every whim and fancy.. But sense you and I are never going to have to live together, who gives a rip?

            Maybe you can find a dog to kick somewhere this afternoon, when no one is looking, you know, work off a little of that frustration. LOL

    • Salad Krugs

      Apparently it isn’t possible to have any dreams, fantasies, or plain and simple fun without it being politicized. Take your anger and hatred somewhere else. Please.

      “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”

      • J_R_K

        I have no idea what you’re talking about. I do know that I am the recipient of far more hatred and anger than I ever feel towards any body. I have discovered that here in the “Land of the brave and the home of the free” the fasted way in the world to have anger and hatred dumped on you like an avalanche is to express, evenly jokingly, a “politically incorrect” opinion. There are so many, who while proclaiming themselves champions of freedom, tolerance, righteousness and open mindedness have absolutely no tolerance for any one with a different opinion.

        I do not know where your quote originated, nor why you quote it here. I happen to believe in both music, and dreams, but yes, I am a little fed up with people who are always proclaiming “we have piped and you have not danced”.

        • Mr Wiseguy

          Call one of them Liberteria and another Hippiestus and send the extremists from both side of the spectrum to each respective one.

  • Captain Slog

    How about. . . HOTH? Why not? Its Cold. That’s about right.

  • Andrew

    Let’s ask the inhabitants what they call them.

  • Alonzo Mt Dew Camacho

    Giedi Prime.

    • Ferdinand Marcos 2.0

      Yeah, get Arrakis, Caladan, Salusa Secondus, Ix? :)

  • Alexandru Cocean

    ( kales beta 1 ),i whould name it sob1 !

  • Ankoaneta

    Anko Arigato

    I named this planet Autolia. From the word Aurora , Toll, and Utopia. It means “Light way to the Dream World”. And another word variations from Authority -Annette Hoc. I declare it and want a response from the earth

  • Daydreamer

    Enid. Feral. Bradbury. Phoenix. Waystation. And, finally, V.

  • amber


  • Bob Robinson

    “Adrianus Agustinus Amadeus Salvador Taurelius” Should be the name because its fancy.

  • Gregory Arnold


  • Regina Edwards


  • gendotte

    Arisia, Eddore,Klovia,Onlo, and anything else that Doc Smith suggested.

  • Asmie Poudel

    vlatyano, sistasis, seclotan, azrithutsch

  • sangos

    One for every individual…..we will run out of names anyway.

  • Bren

    There’s always an idiot that brings politics into everything….

    • J_R_K

      Yeah, ain’t that the truth. And there are always those who cannot separate a humorous quip from a serious suggestion, either. I guess that comes from having no concept of humor, which makes them take every thing much more serious than those who do. The good news it, it gives them a chance to get all righteous-indignationish and an opportunity to rant, rave, insult and name call, which they evidently find utterly enjoyable. (not you, Bren, you didn’t do any of that. But the observation stands)

      • Bren

        Don’t get so butthurt. Its pathetic, you obviously have no life so you reply to every single post just to make it through the day. Sorry your life sucks.

        • J_R_K

          ROFLMAO…. and I’ll bet you are all impressed with your own self, huh? LOL The only thing that makes my life suck is having to deal with blowhards like yourself in person. LOL

          • Bren

            Butthurt. I’d call the waaahmbulance but…nah. Get a life.

          • J_R_K

            Gosh, you’re good! And original, too. LOL

  • Bren


  • J_R_K

    Uh…. I hadn’t thought of that… you do have a point. but then again, if he found out they live in a failed political sewer, he’d just invite them to drop in on us and live happily ever after.

  • Salad Krugs


    • J_R_K

      Excellent recommendation. If anyone is actually keeping count, I second this one.


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