Last week, NASA asked people on Twitter to name the seven newly discovered exoplanets orbiting TRAPPIST-1 and, predictably, people had a mischievously fun time coming up with hilarious and weird nicknames for them.
The suggestions to NASA's challenge #7NamesFor7NewPlanets spans politics, memes, movies, and books. People have put forward the seven dwarfs, the seven hills of Rome, and the seven wonders of the ancient world. If there's seven of something somebody suggested it (even squeezing in Janice to a Friends-themed one). And a staple of public voting these days – [Blank] Mc[Blank]face – made an appearance.
And while there were many hilarious ones, there were also more serious suggestions, including a poignant tribute to the seven astronauts who perished in the Challenger disaster in 1986.
The names of newly discovered objects are usually decided on by the discoverer(s), in this case, Michaël Gillon of the University of Liège in Belgium, but they have also been open to the public in the past.
The International Astronomical Union has a handy guideline on good naming etiquette. The names need to be relatively short, preferably one word, pronounceable, and non-offensive. They cannot be similar to a name already in use, so all the proposals for more Plutos are unfortunately invalid. Names of pet animals are also not valid. And it’s a big no-no to reference political or living people's names.
If you're curious about the many (many) other suggestions you can check out the hashtag #7NamesFor7Planets.
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