Seventeen Minor Planets Now Have New Names Thanks To A Competition

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In 2015, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) ran a competition to have members of the public submit entries for the new official names of 14 stars and 31 exoplanets. Those names were proposed by astronomy groups from all over the world and the 17 groups who were successful were rewarded with another gift from the IAU: they got to name a minor object in the Solar System.

The names celebrate astronomers and poets, educators and authors, as well as theatrical dances and geographical locations, which were all important to the proposers. Three entries came from the Americas (Mexico, US, Canada), six from Asia (Syria, Japan, Thailand), six from Europe (France, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland), one from Morocco, and one from Australia.

“The IAU is delighted to see the involvement of amateur astronomers and of the public in the naming of newly discovered worlds, which, in many respects, puts our own little planet in perspective,” said Piero Benvenuti, IAU General Secretary, in a statement.

“We are happy that the proposers are now rewarded with a ‘celestial’ prize, forever written in the sky! The success of the initiative stimulates the IAU to propose similar open competitions in the future.”

All the proposers will receive a plaque and two certificates for their contribution to astronomical nomenclature.

The list with all the names and explanations, including "Robertstevenson" after the author of classics such as Treasure Island and "Tantawi" after the 19th-century Egyptian astronomer, can be found here. It also includes other minor objects whose names have been recently accepted.

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