Most of the more than 800 exoplanets discovered have unbelievably boring names — 16 Cygni Bb or HD 41004 Ab, to name a couple. So some enterprising entrepreneurs have started a naming contest that allows users to pay to nominate and vote on new names ($4.99 a pop, though there are obviously bulk prices available as we've got a lot of planets to name). Namers receive a certificate commemorating their contribution to the wonderful world of science. Totally not sketchy at all, right?
Well, the International Astronomical Union is here to tell you that this is a scam! Or, according to its special Parisian press release, the IAU "wishes to inform the public that such schemes have no bearing on the official naming process."
The IAU goes on to crush all potential planet-namers' dreams, lecturing us on why it's important to have an organized naming process (because it helps researchers keep track of all the current exoplanets bobbing about out there). This becomes even more crucial when considering that there are thousands of planets still being discovered — multiple names will only lead to confusion, they argue.
Not only does the planet-naming business have no actual validity, the same goes for all the schemes selling stars' names, or real estate on the moon, the IAU says. (Yes, this really happens and has actually been a pretty lucrative business, at least for this guy.)
But the IAU concludes its scolding with a slight concession: maybe the current practice of naming planets with random letters and numbers could use some improvement. In fact, the union has gone so far as to agree to consult with IAU members to decide if it's a good idea to give all the exoplanets "popular names," too. If they do, we can only hope that by planet 453 they'll realize they need some help and turn to the people. Being ripped off is the worst, but actually getting to name a planet would be pretty awesome.
1) These guys aren't scammers. Uwingu is run by space educators, businessmen, lawyers, engineers, and Dr. Alan Stern, former head of all NASA science missions, P.I. for JPL's New Horizons mission to Pluto, VP at the Southwest Research Institute, and CEO of the Golden Spike Company. Yes. Very sketchy indeed.
2) It's not all going to them. The main goal of Uwingu is not only to make money for the owners, but also to help fund planetary research worldwide. So far, they've funded "Astronomers Without Borders," the "Galileo Teacher Training Program," the "Purdue Multiethnic Training Program," and the Allen Telescope Array for SETI. So what if the IAU (the United Nations of astronomy) says they can't name exoplanets? The real benefit of this program is much closer to home.
1) The UN in any form blows.
2) Why can't they keep they current numbering scheme which makes sense regarding databasing all those planets and keep a section open for popular name. For example, HD 41004 Ab can actually be Thor or Tom Jones or Scruffy...
3)Science name/Public name, I don't want to say, hey I'm going over to HD 41004 Ab every time I mention the planet. I want to say Hey I'm going over to Seabiscuit.
It's amusing to me that the IAU has declared that it has the sole right to name planets. Unfortunately whoever yells that their decision is "official" is most likely to be followed. I didn't know about Uwingo, but if they have that much clout then they could potentially get their names to be used in scientific papers, articles like this one, and most importantly Wikipedia.
Names for anything are just the most commonly used way(s) to identify the thing, and there's rarely only one. I hope that the companies who sold naming rights to people get up and shout from the rooftops to get these names into common use for that planet. If they can do that, then they can stop the IAU from turning them into "scammers."
Real estate on the moon is a whole other ballgame though lol. If you can't keep it by force (or under the umbrella of someone else who can) then it's not yours no matter how much you paid for it.
No, you did NOT get scammed if you contributed to Uwingu and voted for an exoplanet name. This is irresponsible journalism. Next time, do your homework before posting PR for one side in an ongoing debate. Uwingu, which is holding the exoplanet naming event, is a company raising money to fund space missions and astronomy research through grants. It is not simply a for-profit scheme. The IAU is not the "single arbiter" of anything except to itself. This is the group that has tried unsuccessfully for nearly seven years to impose a flawed and biased planet definition on the entire world in spite of the fact that that definition was adopted by only four percent of its members, most of whom are not planetary scientists, and was opposed by hundreds of professional astronomers in a formal petition. The IAU does not have a divine right to be the sole arbiter of naming or defining astronomical objects. Check out the entry on this on Universe Today dated April 12, 2013 to learn something about Uwingu and what it's about before maligning the organization.
I'm sure the aliens that live on those planets have named them something different. Naming becomes easy once we have a quantum radio. (once we translate)
You weren't scammed! Uwingu charges 99 cents per exoplanet suggestion. Big deal! Uwingu gives people of the world the chance to have fun naming exoplanets. And the money goes toward funding research! As a member of the National Academy of Sciences, I'm going to make a few more suggestions of names of exoplanets, to have fun and donate to research.
You guys really missed the boat on this one:
1) Uwingu is a nonprofit raising money for science research and education, it is not a scam. None of the funds are used to pay the Uwingu team or its advisers.
2) Uwingu makes no claim of "officialness" for these names — it makes it clear that they are just nominations for astronomers to consider. There is no attempt to deceive here, unlike the genuine scams the IAU mentions (not by name, oddly, unlike Uwingu which is singled out).
3) The IAU press release erroneously asserts that Uwingu names will not be considered — in fact its commission on exoplanet names has made no such decision, and was not consulted regarding this press release
4) The IAU has never named a planet in the 20 years since they were discovered. Indeed, the IAU has never developed a procedure for naming exoplanets.
5) Unofficial names for objects are used all the time — astronomers routinely refer to the Orion Nebula, which is not the IAU sanctioned name (that would be NGC 1973). Astronomers and the press regularly invent popular names for exoplanets ("Tatooine", "Methuselah", "Zarmina's World"). The IAU has never complained about any of this before.
Correction: Uwingu is not a nonprofit, but its founders are reputable. They do say that they have received no money for their efforts. Regardless, the IAU did not follow due process.
Wha....How do you think MY family feels?!? The family name is 'Earth' and our accountants haven't been collecting royalties for living on OUR planet (that's right - Earth) for quite some time now.
As a show of good faith, the slate of past due royalties will be wiped clean for those who agree to pay the paltry fee of 1 cent per year per person, billed in increments of one century.
Considering that our planet is currently occupied by more than 6,000,000,000 people, 1 cent per person per year more than just a bargain, it is a wise investment in your future.
Riiiiight, because the residents of those planets abide by the IAU's binding right to name all the planets, universally. Fancy that the organization tasked with the naming rights for the stars and planets across the entire observable universe is located RIGHT HERE ON OUR HOME PLANET and speaks english!
IAU is just pissed because they missed the popular names boat.
Places often have multiple names along side "official" ones.
Like "America" which is actually United States Of America.
Who the hell says United States Of America every time they want to mention USA?
How many people know where "Hellenic Republic" is?
Or Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis?
You think Japanese people call Japan "Japan"?
And those aren't even what we would call nicknames.
Didn't those IAU guys ever watch StarGate SG1 for crying out loud?!
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