If you have ever wished to name a planet, you have to wait no further as now is the chance to do just that. Thanks to the “NameExoWorlds” contest by the International Astronomical Union, you finally have a say in what a planet is going to be named. This is the first time in history that normal public gives such an opportunity. You can also name stars through the voting process.
The International Astronomical Union oversees the naming of cosmic objects and this time around they have opened a public voting system to name 32 exo planets and 15 of their host stars. Voting is open through October 31 and the winning names will be announced in mid November.
Interested parties have already submitted more than 200 names to the IAU, which has reduced those names to a shortlist. The names are already chosen, so unfortunately, you cannot for instance name a planet “BobMarley”. You can go to the NameExoWorlds website, explore some of the alien planets and vote for a name. Voting is absolutely free and requires no registration whatsoever.
There are a variety for names for each planet and star with attached explanations by the groups that submitted them. Some of them are completely crazy made-up names like “Gegalbis” while others are based on science fiction. Some are simple names with simple explanations while others are complex, have lengthy explanations for them.
One group has proposed to name a planet with its sun named ‘Errai’ as “Kharoof”. Explanation? Well, according to them “Errai is Arabic for shepherd, so we chose an Arabic word for the sheep, which is herded by the shepherd (sun)”
Astronomers have confirmed more than 800 planets beyond our own solar system, and still many are being discovered.