In 2015, the IAU organised the NameExoWorlds contest, which provided the first opportunity for the public to submit names for exoplanets and their stars. As a result, the names of 19 ExoWorlds (14 stars and 31 exoplanets orbiting them) were chosen by public vote, and accepted by the IAU. These names became the official designations of the exoplanets and stars.
As a reward to the winners, they were given the exciting opportunity to name minor planets in our Solar System. The IAU, via its Division F Working Group Small Bodies Nomenclature (SBN), recently approved the new names of 17 minor planets after the winners made their proposals.
The 17 names are named after astronomers, educators, authors, poets, and theatrical dances, as well as the names and locations of astronomical organisations.
Here’s the full list of the approved names, along with their previous minor planet designations:
- Brevardastro (6117) 1985 CZ1
- Mayuboshi (6118) 1986 QX3
- Singto (6125) 1989 CN
- Hubelmatt (6126) 1989 EW1
- Royaldutchastro (6133) 1990 RC3
- Kamagari (6134) 1990 RA5
- Miguelhernández (6138) 1991 JH1
- Tantawi (6142) 1993 EP
- Andréseloy (6159) 1991 YH
- Fécamp (6177): 1986 CE2
- Kagura (6187) 1988 RD5
- Javiergorosabel (6192) 1990 KB1
- Bernardbowen (6196) 1991 UO4
- Franzthaler (6212) 1993 MS1
- Mehdia (6215) 1973 EK
- Kodai (6217) 1975 XH
- Thunder Bay (11780) 1942 TB
It’s one thing to reward contest winners by allowing them to propose new names, but not at the expense of good taste. The IAU should be embarrassed by these selections and reconsider similar honors in the future. Thanks to this judgement lapse, as of today our solar system sounds a little bit more like a basket of reject planets from a c-list scifi movie.