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Epicurus, Hypatia and Nicynon

You can now vote in an IAU worldwide contest to name exoplanets. Since the first entry on 12 August more than 250’000 votes have been registered. Deadline is 31 October 2015.

„Epicurus“ should be the new name of 51 Pegasi b according to the “Société Astronomique de Genève”. “It was proposed by Michel Mayor, honorary President of our society, from the Epicurian plurality of world’s”, the Genevan astronomy club summarizes its recommendation. Another proposal for 51 Peg b is “Matafeiyan”, the Chinese name of a galloping horse in association with Pegasus, the winged horse, and the exoplanet that orbits its host star in just 4 days.

An exoplanet seen from its moon (Artist's impression: IAU/L. Calcada)

An exoplanet seen from its moon (Artist’s impression: IAU/L. Calcada)

The international Astronomical Union (IAU) presents 20 nameable planetary systems with 32 exoplanets. Astronomy clubs and non-profit organisations submitted the proposals for the names of the exoplanets and 15 host stars – the ones that have no historical names like Pollux or Fomalhaut. Now everybody can vote on the shortlist. „The NameExoWorlds contest provides not only the first opportunity fort he public to name exoplanets, but also – for the first time in centuries – to give names to stars“, the IAU writes in a press release.

Because the star 51 Pegasi is well known under this name, the Genevan Astronomical Society likes to stay with it whereas another group suggests “Helvetios” “due to the fact that the exosystem was discovered by Swiss citizens”. Many of the proposals are Japanese names such as “Manapie” for the star epsilon Eridani, the diminutive of the Japanese word of study and “Nicynon” for the planet epsilon Eridani b, meaning “our desire to get on with our studies slowly but steadily as a snail” as the astronomy club located at Kiso Observatory explains.

Besides fantasy names historic persons seem to be popular eponyms like the Greek philosopher Epicurus. For a planet accompanying the star Edasich visible to the naked eye in the constellation of the Dragon a group suggests “Hypatia”, the name of an ancient female Greek astronomer and mathematician who was killed by a religious mob in Alexandria. (bva)

Votes can be cast here:


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