Our suggestion yesterday that exoplanet HD 43848 b in the constellation Columba would probably benefit from a name other than "Female Pigeon" (Peristera) prompted the planet formation expert responsible for the idea to beam over a mild email protest. Wladimir Lyra writes: Dear Mr Haines, I just saw the text you wrote about …
We can do better than that
How about using one of the fantasy/sci-fi name-generator programs? The names are random and pronounceable.
Roman vs other mythologies
Graeco-Roman mythology has already been pretty much exhausted as a source for names just within our own Solar System, hence recent minor/dwarf planet namings from other myhtologies such as Sedna (Inuit), Quaoar (Native American), Makemake (Easter Island) and Haumea (Hawaiian).
I can understand the IAU's reluctance to start using up potential names on extra-solar bodies when there's so many bodies being discovered in our system that are going to need names.
Oops, Jim meets perry
Hmm, forget greek or roman, It's just SciFi:
Vulcan and Romulus are the home planets of Vulcanians and Romulans, as we all know essentially the same race. And Peristera is a planet from the SF-novelles 'Perr Rhodan'. Rerry Rhodan is a very, very long running series of booklets (don't know, maybe a 100 pages each) being each week or so, stemming from Germany.
As astronomers discover more planetary systems, I can see this problem becoming more acute. How long before eleven lonely rocks are named after the Oxford United squad?
I don't really see what all the fuss is about, mythology and wikipedia go well together, if not in the same breath, at least hand in hand.
And probably not the first to say this, or the last, seeing as we're into naming the planets after Greek Islands, what about Lesbos. After all as Wlad points out, he feels Uranus to be "problematic", why not cut to the chase and just use humuorous names, Lesbos would be just fine, if the planet had any moons, they could be classed as Lesbossians naturally, of course many would associate wrongly with Lesbians, in the same manner they associate with Uranus.
And in commemoration of its place in IT history
Name them after the planets in Elite!
And the first of them shall be "Lave".
Just in case there's life out there.
I for one welcome our Female Pigeon overlords.
"How about a solar system with planets called Tatooine, Alderaan, Dagobah and Naboo?"
What a ridiculous idea. How would my GPS StarNav know WHICH Tatooine I wanted to travel to? Your absurdly made up one or the real one on the fringes of the Galactic Empire?
The names are supposed to HELP, not hinder.
Let's keep things straight
I am all in favor of using fictional universes for sources of names (practical problems of finite names and a much bigger finite number of plantes). However, if you're going to use Tatooine, Dantooine, et. al. for celestial bodies, shouldn't those actually be the names of stars? That would require mythologies to be restricted to individual galaxies instead of solar systems, but that makes more sense anyway. Paticularly if the galaxy is far, far away.
P.S. I second the suggestion of "Lave"
Name generators FTW.
Just about done then
In the LoTR mythology we can find enough names for all the stars and all the planets and all the little grains of sand on all those planets*) in the entire universe.
*) Assuming none of the stars have grains of sand on them. If I turn out to be wrong, I shall volunteer to find names for all the grains of sand on all the stars as well, using nothing but the appendixes of LoTR and the Silmarillion.
Magarathea, Viltvodel 6, Traal, and, of course, Golgafrincham!
Mine's the one with the towel and the Electronic Sub-Etha Thumb in the pocket...
Has to be Elite!
Yes Lave must be used but which planet was it that had a hatred of Arts Graduates?
Yay for Elite names!
I for one welcome our new Lavian overlords.
Let's not forget about Dis, Leesti and Reedquat!
Damned polite astronomers
He had the potential for a FoTW!
Ironically, you did forget, those planets were called, IIRC, Diso, Reidquat and Leesti and formed a nice little trading triangle right next to Lave.
Too geeky? Mies the one with 16T of alien artifacts in the pockets...
I'd like tro see Four Ecks
because there will always be an obscure minor language in the Pacific Islands in which one of the names will be problematic.
I would hardly call the old roman empire a small island in the pacific
Well we can tell who doesn't get out too often. Don't you know travelling through hyperspace is not like dusting crops??? You have to drill down through at least 40 Tatooines before you get to the right one! If there were only one, then any old numpty could do it and where would that leave the poor spacing guild navigators???
"Let's not forget about Dis, Leesti and Reedquat!"
ah, my first trade run...heady days. Blue Danube and lining up to dock between planet and station. Turn to face and hit the gas. Spin a bit, and again, cue concentric circles for a successful docking manouevre at maximum speed in a Cobra MkII with Military lasers.
Where's that damned emulator gone....
Mine's the one with the Novella in the pocket.
We should just give them a number until we confirm they are barren with no intelligent life. Then we should go there and once landed, name it.
That will delay the whole name problem for a few centuries at least.
How about the Christian mythology?
If you're going to use the Roman, Norse, Hindu, Polynesian, Egyptian or other mythologies then you should really use the Christian one as well.
@How about the Christian mythology
yeah, 'cos there's lots of gods to name stuff after in a monotheistic religion.
@How about the Christian mythology?
Au contraire, Mr Blackshaw - there might be only one Big G, but the Book is stuffed with mythical beings that NEVER ACTUALLY EXISTED* - Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Noah, Ham, Sham, Spam (my memory gets a little fuzzy after that...)
* No they DIDN'T. DIDN'T. DIDN'T. DIDN'T. DIDN'T. DIDN'T. DID. DIDN'T with bells on.
There are lots and lots of angels, archangels, princes, thrones, seraphs, demons and Bible characters.
How kick ass would be the names "Nebuchadnezzar I" or "Zacharael IV" for a planet?
Names already being drawn from outside Greek/Roman myths
Shame on you all. You call yourselves geeks and yet no-one has mentioned that Rama from the Arthur C Clarke novels is drawn from Hindu mythology?
Christianity is polyteistic
Saints? Anyone for saints? May not be entirely mythological but the whole concept stinks of magic and co-godhood. Gotta be room for saints up there somewhere.
Trouble is, naming an extra-solar planet Jehovah would probably result in astonomers being stoned to death somewhere...
Gandalf is already legal...
...along with many of Tolkien's minor characters, since he pinched them from obscure corners of Norse and Germanic myth.
Vanity, vanity, all is vanity and striving after wind!
(normal) People, rise!!
Are we so reflexively shamed by our own personal nomenclature that we are willing to yield the celestial namespace to the ancient, the fictional, and the computo-fabricated?!?!
What harm is there in christening planets Gareth, Robert, and Dannielle? Imagine a time when we can reflect our growing familiarity with a celestial object in a manner that is at once both natural and familiar to us all:
"Scientists of the ESA's Gareth Exploration Program estimate that a mission to Gareth - or "Stinky Gaz", as it is known by its closest friends, will cost approximately $3bn..."
..which, of course, automatically expands the namespace as room is made to accommodate, for example, Gareth, Gary, Gaz, Gazza, Fat Gazza, Wee Gazza, Gazza The Hut and so on and so forth.
And, of course, how beneficial will it be to loose ourselves from the demonical toga-grammar of the ancients? It is well known that words like "Pleiades" cannot be accurately pronounced while wearing underpants. No. Once we embrace the modern languages, more pronounceable names like "John", "Juan Carlo De La Fuente Burro", "Xiao Lin Pa Fo", and "*click* *click* *cluck* *tut* *smile* *click* *tut*" become the norm and the heavens at last become the domain of the common man.
As for the homages, Heinlein gave us a word for understanding things that, itself, needs to be explained every time we use it in normal society, Asimov gave us rules for automata that rely on ethical constructs that even we have difficulty consistently explaining, Adams gave us a view of the universe that is remarkably similar to a high street just after closing time, and Pratchett helped us find a way to laugh at those Tolkien freaks that dress like orcs in the park on Sunday afternoons. Is that not enough? Must we name every orbiting cloud of debris Zaphod? Must we?
This brings me, at last, to the gamerz, nerds, and computer freaks. Your place in this world is in a dark box, lit only by the cold phosphorescent glow of a computer terminal. You have no right to be looking out, much less up. Until we can find a way to plumb you directly into the network, please stay in your box and try not to get Cheetoh dust into everything. When we have named everything, you can MD5 the list and memorise the hash for recital at the "parties" you get invited to. It may help you breed or it may help you reconcile a life full of not breeding. Thats ok. We want you to be "happy".
I for one will be prepared to fight the overlords from the planet of Lyra. Having encountered them in the past, I know that they're wretched magical beings who worship this horrible entity called "B'harnii". For the sake of the children, you should fight them, too.
Black helicopter, because a few of them are actually among us, spreading their horrible teachings and evil lies.
What about the people who live there already?
Don't they have prior naming rights? If we start imposing our own names, we will just have to change them later. Much like earth, actually: Congo to Zaire, Danzig to Gdansk, Wales to Cymru, etc.
I want to name all
the planets and stars in the rude-persons galaxy.
@AC 21:57 (aka Gareth)
"Your place in this world is in a dark box, lit only by the cold phosphorescent glow of a computer terminal."
OY! That's far too close to the truth to be even remotely funny.
Get thyself to xkcd.com for a course of 'treatment'.
Quoting the Wikipedia entry for Uranus
"Uranus (pronounced /ˈjʊərənəs, jʊˈreɪnəs/) is the Latinized form of Ouranos (Οὐρανός), the Greek word for sky."
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