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How are asteroids and comets named?

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is the formal authority for naming celestial bodies. Newly detected minor planets or asteroids get a provisional designation: For example 1989 SG1 was the 32nd object detected in the second half of September 1989. If the object’s orbit is confirmed it receives a permanent number and the discoverer is invited to suggest a name for it. So 1989 SG1 became 7934 Sinatra named in memory of the American singer. This process can take decades. So if you want to make sure that your own name is on the sky you have to discover a comet. Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that was visited by the European spacecraft Rosetta had been named after the Soviet astronomers Klim Ivanovych Churyumov and Svetlana Ivanovna Gerasimenko who had detected it in September 1969. The object is number 67 on the list of numbered comets with “P” standing for periodic.

Frank Sinatra: a star and asteroid. Credit: zvg

Frank Sinatra: a star and asteroid. Credit: zvg

Category: Solar System

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