Public will now be able to submit their own suggestions on what to call new discoveries in space, International Astronomical Union (IAU), which is responsible for naming planets, stars and other celestial bodies, has announced. (Agencies)
IAU, the Paris-based organization has more than 11,000 members in more than 90 countries, making it the de facto authority in the field.
Without any official laws enforcing the use of planetary names, the decisions on what to call new discoveries are usually a matter of consensus.
The changes announced by IAU hope to make public's involvement more streamlined, asking that submissions are "sent to email@example.com" and promising that they will be "handled on a case-by-case basis".
"The IAU fully supports the involvement of the general public, whether directly or through an independent organized vote, in the naming of planetary satellites, newly discovered planets, and their host stars," the organization said.
The following guidelines have been offered for submission by would-be planet-namers: The proposed name should be 16 characters or less in length, preferably one word, pronounceable in as many languages as possible and non-offensive in any language or culture.
The name should not be too similar to an existing name of an astronomical object. The organization discourages names of pet animals, and names of a purely or principally commercial nature are not allowed.
The IAU recently vetoed naming a newly discovered moon orbiting Pluto after Vulcan, the home-planet of Spock from the Star Trek franchise.
The latest celestial discovery waiting to be named is a new moon orbiting Neptune designated S/2004 N 1.
Public will now be able to submit their own suggestions on what to call new discoveries in space, International Astronomical Union (IAU), which is responsible for naming planets, stars and other celestial bodies, has announced.