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Encyclopedia > Astronomical naming conventions

In ancient times, only the Sun and Moon, a few hundred stars and the most easily visible planets had names. Over the last few hundred years, the number of identified astronomical objects has risen from hundreds to over a billion, and more are discovered every year. Astronomers need to be able to assign systematic designations to unambiguously identify all of these objects, and at the same time give names to the most interesting objects and, where relevant, features of those objects. The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. ... Apparent magnitude: up to -12. ... This article is about the astronomical object. ... For the astrological concept, see Planets in astrology. ...


The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is the major body recognized by astronomers worldwide, and perhaps by other scientists, as the naming authority for astronomical bodies. In response to the need for unambiguous names for astronomical objects, it has created a number of systematic naming systems for bodies of various sorts. Logo of the IAU The International Astronomical Union (French: Union astronomique internationale) unites national astronomical societies from around the world. ... A giant Hubble mosaic of the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant. ... There are millions of possible objects that can be described in science, too many to create common names for every one. ...


A few star-naming companies sell the right to list stars in their private registries under whatever name the buyer so chooses. However, the IAU (and, therefore, most astronomers) do not recognize those names as "official" (although the companies themselves do). Some websites (especially those speaking for astronomers) say that the IAU is the only body allowed to officially name heavenly objects. The star-naming companies, naturally, disagree.

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Names of stars

According to the IAU, apart from a limited number of bright stars with historic names, stars do not have proper names. Where historic names exist, these names are, with a few exceptions, taken from the Arabic language: this reflects the leading role of Arab culture in astronomy while Europe was experiencing the Middle Ages. See List of traditional star names for a list of some of these names. This article is about the astronomical object. ... A proper name [is] a word that answers the purpose of showing what thing it is that we are talking about writes John Stuart Mill in A System of Logic (1. ... Arabic ( or just ), is the largest member of the family of Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family (classification: South Central Semitic) and is closely related to Hebrew, Amharic, and Aramaic. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... This is a list of traditional names for stars, mostly derived from Arabic and Latin. ...


There are no more than a few thousand stars that appear sufficiently bright in the Earth's sky to be visible to the naked eye, so this represents the limit of the possible number of stars available to be named by ancient cultures. This limit is approximate, as it varies by the acuity of any given observer's eyes, but ten thousand stars (the naked-eye stars to visual magnitude six) seems to be an upper bound to what is physiologically possible. The apparent magnitude (m) of a star, planet or other heavenly body is a measure of its apparent brightness; that is, the amount of light received from the object. ...


Estimates of the number of stars with recognised proper names range from 300 to 350 different stars. These tend to be the brightest stars, or stars that form part of constellation patterns with the brightest stars. The number of proper names for stars is greater than the number of stars with proper names, as many different cultures named stars independently. For example, the star known as Polaris has also at various times and places been known by the names Alruccabah, Angel Stern, Cynosura, the Lodestar, Mismar, Navigatoria, Phoenice, the Pole Star, the Star of Arcady, Tramontana and Yilduz. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... For other uses, see Polaris (disambiguation). ...


With the advent of the increased light-gathering abilities of the telescope, many more stars became visible, far too many to all be given names. Instead, they have designations assigned to them by a variety of different star catalogues. Older catalogues either assigned an arbitrary number to each object, or used a simple systematic naming scheme such as combining constellation names with Greek letters. Multiple sky catalogues meant that some stars had more than one designation. For example, the star with the Arabic name of Rigil Kentaurus also has the Bayer designation of Alpha Centauri. In astronomy, many stars are referred to simply by catalogue numbers. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Technical note: Due to technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this article. ... Alternative meaning: Alpha Centauri computer game The position of Alpha Centauri Alpha Centauri is the brightest star system in the southern constellation of Centaurus, and is the fourth brightest in the entire night sky (although too far south to be visible in most of the northern hemisphere). ... Many of the brighter stars are given names which are known as Bayer designations. ... Alpha Centauri (α Cen / α Centauri) is the brightest star system in the southern constellation of Centaurus. ...


As the resolving power of telescopes increased, numerous objects that were thought to be a single object were found to be multiple star systems that were too closely spaced in the sky to be discriminated by the human eye. These and other confusions make it essential that great care is taken in using designations. For example, Rigil Kentaurus contains three stars in a triple star system, labelled Rigil Kentaurus A, B and C respectively. A multiple star system is any star system in which more than one star is engaged in stable gravitational interaction. ...


Most modern catalogues are generated by computers, using high-resolution, high-sensitivity telescopes, and as a result describe very large numbers of objects. For example, the Guide Star Catalog II has entries on over 998 million distinct astronomical objects. Objects in these catalogs are typically located with very high resolution, and assign designations to these objects based on their position in the sky. An example of such a designation is SDSSp J153259.96-003944.1, where the initialism SDSSp indicates that the designation is from the "Sloan Digital Sky Survey preliminary objects", and the other characters indicate celestial coordinates. The Guide Star Catalog II has entries on 998,402,801 distinct astronomical objects. ... SDSS Logo The Sloan Digital Sky Survey or SDSS is a major multi-filter imaging and spectroscopic redshift survey using a dedicated 2. ... In astronomy, a celestial coordinate system is a coordinate system for mapping positions in the sky. ...


The star nearest to Earth, our Sun, is typically referred to simply as "the Sun" or its equivalent in the language being used (for instance, if two astronomers were speaking French, they would call it le Soleil). However, it is sometimes called by its Latin name, Sol. The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ... Standards Of Learning SOL stands for The Standards Of Learning. ...


Finally, there are a very few stars named after people. Over the past few centuries, a small number of stars have been named for individuals. ...

For a more detailed treatment of the designations of stars, see star designation.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to stars (and other celestial bodies). ...

Managing the initialisms of star catalogues

The IAU is the ultimate maintainer of the namespace of astronomical designations in catalogues of astronomical objects. The purpose of this is to ensure that names assigned by these catalogues are unambiguous. There have been many historical star catalogues, and new star catalogues are set up on a regular basis as new sky surveys are performed. All designations of objects in recent star catalogues start with an "initialism", which is kept globally unique by the IAU. Different star catalogues then have different naming conventions for what goes after the initialism, but modern catalogues tend to follow a set of generic rules for the data formats used. In general, a namespace is an abstract container, which is or could be filled by names, or technical terms, or words, and these represent (stand for) real-world things. ...


Names and boundaries of constellations

The sky was arbitrarily divided into constellations by historic astronomers, according to perceived patterns in the sky. At first, only the shapes of the patterns were defined, and the names and numbers of constellations varied from one star map to another. Even though the constellations are scientifically meaningless, they still provide useful reference points in the sky for human beings, including astronomers. In 1930, the boundaries of these constellations were fixed by Eugène Joseph Delporte and adopted by the IAU, so that now every point on the celestial sphere belongs to a particular constellation. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Year 1930 (MCMXXX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link is to a full 1930 calendar). ... Eugène Joseph Delporte (January 10, 1882 – October 19, 1955) was a Belgian astronomer. ... The celestial sphere is divided by the celestial equator. ...


Names of supernovae

Supernova discoveries are reported to the International Astronomical Union's Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams which sends out a circular with the name it assigns to it. The name is formed by the year of discovery, immediately followed by a one- or two-letter designation. The first 26 supernovae of the year get an upper case letter from A to Z. Afterward, pairs of lower-case letters are used, starting with aa, ab, and so on. Four historical supernovae are known simply by the year they occurred (SN 1006, 1054, 1572 (Tycho's Nova), and 1604 (Kepler's Star)); starting with 1885, the letters are used, even if there was only one supernova that year (e.g. SN 1885A, 1907A, etc.) —this last happened with SN 1947A. The standard abbreviation "SN" is an optional prefix. Professional and amateur astronomers currently find at least 500 supernovae a year. For example, the last supernova of 2006 was SN 2006ue, indicating that it was the 551st supernova found in 2006 (a record year, in fact). Multiwavelength X-ray image of the remnant of Keplers Supernova, SN 1604. ... Logo of the IAU The International Astronomical Union (French: Union astronomique internationale) unites national astronomical societies from around the world. ... The Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT) is the official international clearing house for information relating to transient astronomical events. ... Look up A, a in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up Z, z in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... ... SN 1054 was a supernova that was widely seen on Earth in the year 1054. ... X-ray image of the expanding cloud of debris and high energy electrons from Tychos supernova. ... Supernova 1604, also known as Keplers Supernova or Keplers Star, was a supernova in the Milky Way, in the constellation Ophiuchus. ... 1885 (MDCCCLXXXV) is a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ...


Names of galaxies

Like stars, most galaxies do not have names. There are a few exceptions such as the Andromeda Galaxy, the Whirlpool Galaxy, and others, but most simply have a catalog number. M31 in a small telescope The Andromeda Galaxy (IPA: , also known as Messier 31, M31, or NGC 224; older texts often called it the Andromeda Nebula) is a spiral galaxy approximately 2. ... The Whirlpool Galaxy (also known as Messier 51, M51, or NGC 5194) is an interacting[3] grand-design[4] spiral galaxy located at a distance of approximately 23 million light-years in the constellation Canes Venatici. ...


In the 19th century, the exact nature of galaxies was not yet understood, and the early catalogs such as the Messier catalog simply grouped together open clusters, globular clusters, nebulas, and galaxies, 110 in total. The Andromeda Galaxy is Messier object 31, or M31; the Whirlpool Galaxy is M51. The New General Catalogue (NGC) (J.L.E. Dreyer 1888) was much larger and contained nearly 8000 objects. Table of all 110 Messier objects. ... The Pleiades is one of the most famous open clusters. ... The Globular Cluster M80 in the constellation Scorpius is located about 28,000 light years from the Sun and contains hundreds of thousands of stars. ... The Triangulum Emission Nebula NGC 604 lies in a spiral arm of Galaxy M33, 2. ... This image is a Galaxy Evolution Explorer observation of the large galaxy in Andromeda, Messier 31. ... M51 may refer to: The Whirlpool Galaxy, (also known as Spiral Galaxy M51, Messier Object 51, Messier 51, M51, or NGC 5194), a classic spiral galaxy located in the Canes Venatici constellation. ... The New General Catalogue (NGC) is the most well-known catalogue of deep sky objects in amateur astronomy. ...


Names of planets

The brightest planets in the sky have been named from ancient times. The scientific names are taken from the names given by the Romans; Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Our own planet is usually named the Earth, or the equivalent in the language being spoken (for instance, two astronomers speaking French would call it la Terre). However, it is only recently in human history that it has been thought of as a planet. The Earth, when viewed as a planet, is sometimes also called Terra. Note: This article contains special characters. ... (*min temperature refers to cloud tops only) Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure 9. ... Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the solar system, named after the Roman god of war (the counterpart of the Greek Ares), on account of its blood red color as viewed in the night sky. ... Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure 70 kPa Hydrogen ~86% Helium ~14% Methane 0. ... Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure 140 kPa Hydrogen >93% Helium >5% Methane 0. ... Earth, also known as the Earth or Terra, is the third planet outward from the Sun. ... Terra may mean: Terra (mythology), a primeval Roman goddess, also known as Tellus, the Greek equivilent being Gaia Terra is the Latin name for the planet Earth, commonly used in science fiction as the name of Earth, instead of Earth eg: Holy Terra, the name of Earth in the fictional...


At least two more bodies were discovered later, and called planets:


All of these planets were given names from Greek or Roman myth, to match the ancient planet names. However, this was only after some controversy. For example, Sir William Herschel discovered Uranus in 1781, and originally called it Georgium Sidus (George's Star) in honour of King George III of the United Kingdom. French astronomers began calling it Herschel before German Johann Bode proposed the name Uranus, after the Greek and Roman god. The name "Uranus" did not come into common usage until around 1850. Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure 120 kPa Hydrogen 83% Helium 15% Methane 1. ... For other persons named William Herschel, see William Herschel (disambiguation). ... 1781 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... Atmospheric characteristics Surface pressure ≫100 MPa Hydrogen - H2 80% ±3. ... Johann Gottfried Galle (June 9, 1812 – July 10, 1910) was a German astronomer at the Berlin Observatory who, with help from Urbain Le Verrier, sighted Neptune on September 23, 1846. ... 1846 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... Urbain Le Verrier. ... John Couch Adams (June 5, 1819 – January 21, 1892), was a British mathematician and astronomer. ... For other persons named William Herschel, see William Herschel (disambiguation). ... George III (George William Frederick) (4 June 1738 – 29 January 1820) was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until 1 January 1801, and thereafter United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death. ... Johann Elert Bode Johann Elert Bode (January 19, 1747 – November 23, 1826) was a German astronomer known for his contribution to the Titius-Bode law and his works to determine the orbit of Uranus, for which he also suggested the name. ... 1850 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ...


Starting in 1801, asteroids were discovered between Mars and Jupiter. The first few (Ceres, Pallas, Juno, Vesta) were initially considered minor planets and joined the ranks of the planets. As more and more were discovered, they were soon stripped of their planetary status. Pluto was not considered an asteroid, being found very far indeed beyond any then-known asteroid's greatest distance from the Sun. The Union Jack, flag of the newly formed United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. ... 253 Mathilde, a C-type asteroid. ... 1 Ceres (IPA , Latin: ) is a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt. ... 2 Pallas (pal-us, Greek Παλλάς) was the first asteroid discovered after 1 Ceres. ... 3 Juno (jew-noe (key)) was the third asteroid to be discovered and is one of the largest main belt asteroids, being the heaviest of the stony S-type. ... 4 Vesta (ves-ta) is the second most massive asteroid in the asteroid belt, with a mean diameter of about 530 km and an estimated mass 12% the mass of the entire asteroid belt. ... Minor planets, or planetoids are minor bodies of the Solar system orbiting the Sun (or of other planetary systems orbiting other stars) that are larger than meteoroids (the largest of which might be taken to be around 10 meters or so across) but smaller than major planets (Mercury having a...


Some sixty years after the discovery of Pluto, a large number of large trans-Neptunian objects began to be discovered. Under the criteria of classifying these Kuiper belt objects (KBOs), it is dubious whether Pluto would have been called a planet were it discovered in the 1990s: its mass is now known to be much smaller than what was once thought and, with the discovery of Eris, it may simply be the second largest member of the Kuiper belt. In 2006, Pluto was reclassified to a different class of astronomical bodies known as dwarf planets. A trans-Neptunian object (TNO) is any object in the solar system that orbits the sun at a greater distance on average than Neptune. ... Artists rendering of the Kuiper Belt and hypothetical more distant Oort cloud. ... Eris (IPA or ), officially designated 136199 Eris, is the largest known dwarf planet in the solar system. ... Artists impression of Pluto (background) and Charon (foreground). ...


Natural satellites of planets

The Earth's moon is simply known as the Moon, or the equivalent in the language being spoken (for instance, two astronomers speaking French would call it la Lune). It is sometimes called Luna (which is simply Latin for "moon"). Natural satellites of other planets are generally named after mythological figures. Satellites of Uranus are named after characters from works by William Shakespeare or Alexander Pope. For other moons in the solar system see natural satellite. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Alexander Pope, an English poet best known for his Essay on Criticism and Rape of the Lock Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) is generally regarded as the greatest English poet of the early eighteenth century, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. ...


When satellites are first discovered, they are given provisional designations such as "S/2000 J 11" (the 11th new satellite of Jupiter discovered in 2000) or "S/2003 S 1" (the 1st new satellite of Saturn discovered in 2003). The initial "S/" stands for "satellite", and distinguishes from such prefixes as "D/", "C/", and "P/", used for comets. The designation "R/" is used for planetary rings. These designations are sometimes written like "S/2003 S1", dropping the second space. The letter following the category and year identifies the planet (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto; although no occurrence of the other planets is expected, Mars and Mercury are disambiguated through the use of Hermes for the latter). When the object is found around a minor planet, the identifier used is the latter's number in parentheses. Thus, Dactyl, the moon of 243 Ida, was at first designated "S/1993 (243) 1". Once confirmed and named, it became (243) Ida I Dactyl. S/2000 J 11 is a natural satellite of Jupiter. ... This article is about the year 2000. ... Narvi (provisional name S/2003 S 1) is a natural satellite of Saturn. ... 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Comet Hale-Bopp Comet McNaught as seen from Swifts Creek, Victoria, Australia on 23 January 2007 A comet is a small body in the solar system that orbits the Sun and (at least occasionally) exhibits a coma (or atmosphere) and/or a tail â€” both primarily from the effects of... 243 Ida (left) and Dacytl (right), as photographed by Galileo. ... NASA image of 243 Ida. ... 243 Ida (left) and Dacytl (right), as photographed by Galileo. ... 243 Ida (left) and Dactyl (right), as photographed by the Galileo spacecraft. ...

Note: The assignation of "H" for Mercury is specified by the USGS Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature; since they usually follow IAU guidelines closely, this is very likely the IAU convention, but confirmation is needed. Note: This article contains special characters. ... Adjectives: Venusian or (rarely) Cytherean Atmosphere Surface pressure: 9. ... Adjectives: Terrestrial, Terran, Telluric, Tellurian, Earthly Atmosphere Surface pressure: 101. ... Note: This article contains special characters. ... Adjectives: Jovian Atmosphere Surface pressure: 70 kPa Composition: ~86% Hydrogen ~14% Helium 0. ... Adjective Saturnian Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure 140 kPa Hydrogen >93% Helium >5% Methane 0. ... Adjective Uranian Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure 120 kPa (at the cloud level) Hydrogen 83% Helium 15% Methane 1. ... Note: This article contains special characters. ... For other uses, see Pluto (disambiguation). ...


After a few months or years, when a newly discovered satellite's existence has been confirmed and its orbit computed, a permanent name is chosen, which replaces the "S/" provisional designation. However, in the past, some satellites remained unnamed for surprisingly long periods after their discovery. See Naming of natural satellites for a history of how some of the major satellites got their current names. The naming of natural satellites has been the responsibility of the IAUs committee for Planetary System Nomenclature since 1973. ...


The Roman numbering system arose with the very first discovery of natural satellites other than Earth's Moon: Galileo referred to the Galilean moons as I through IV (counting from Jupiter outward), in part to spite his rival Simon Marius, who had proposed the names now adopted. Similar numbering schemes naturally arose with the discovery of moons around Saturn and Mars. Although the numbers initially designated the moons in orbital sequence, new discoveries soon failed to conform with this scheme (e.g. "Jupiter V" is Amalthea, which orbits closer to Jupiter than does Io). The unstated convention then became, at the close of the 19th century, that the numbers more or less reflected the order of discovery, except for prior historical exceptions (see the Timeline of discovery of Solar System planets and their natural satellites). Galileo can refer to: Galileo Galilei, astronomer, philosopher, and physicist (1564 - 1642) the Galileo spacecraft, a NASA space probe that visited Jupiter and its moons the Galileo positioning system Life of Galileo, a play by Bertolt Brecht Galileo (1975) - screen adaptation of the play Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht... Jupiters 4 Galilean moons, in a composite image comparing their sizes and the size of Jupiter (Great Red Spot visible). ... Simon Marius Simon Marius (January 10, 1573 – December 26, 1624) was a German astronomer. ... Atmospheric pressure 0 kPa Amalthea (am-É™l-thee-É™, IPA: , Greek Αμάλθεια) is the third moon of Jupiter (in order of distance from the planet), and the fifth in order of discovery, hence its Roman numeral designation of Jupiter V. It was discovered on September 9, 1892 by Edward Emerson Barnard using... Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure trace Sulfur dioxide 90% Io (eye-oe, IPA: , Greek Ῑώ) is the innermost of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... This timeline of discovery of Solar System planets and their natural satellites charts the progress of the discovery of new bodies over history. ...


Geological and geographical features on planets and satellites

In addition to naming planets and satellites themselves, the individual geological and geographical features (craters, mountains, volcanos and so forth) on those planets and satellites also need to be named. Planetary nomenclature, like terrestrial nomenclature, is used to uniquely identify a feature on the surface of a planet or natural satellite so that the feature can be easily located, described, and discussed. ...


In the early days, only a very limited number of features could be seen on other solar system bodies other than the Moon. Craters on the Moon could be observed with even some of the earliest telescopes, and 19th century telescopes could make out some features on Mars. Jupiter had its famous Great Red Spot, also visible though early telescopes. Apparent magnitude: up to -12. ... Apparent magnitude: up to -12. ... The Great Red Spot is a persistent anticyclonic storm on the planet Jupiter, 22° south of the equator, which has lasted at least 340 years. ...


In 1919 the IAU was formed, and it appointed a committee to regularize the chaotic lunar and Martian nomenclatures then current. Much of the work was done by Mary Adela Blagg, and the report Named Lunar Formations by Blagg and Muller (1935), was the first systematic listing of lunar nomenclature. Later, "The System of Lunar Craters, quadrants I, II, III, IV" was published, under the direction of Gerard P. Kuiper. These works were adopted by the IAU and became the recognized sources for lunar nomenclature. Year 1919 (MCMXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar). ... Mary Adela Blagg (May 17, 1858–April 14, 1944) was an English astronomer. ... Gerard Peter Kuiper, born Gerrit Pieter Kuiper (December 7, 1905 – December 23, 1973) was a Dutch-American astronomer. ...


The Martian nomenclature was clarified in 1958, when a committee of the IAU recommended for adoption the names of 128 albedo features (bright, dark, or colored) observed through ground-based telescopes (IAU, 1960). These names were based on a system of nomenclature developed in the late 19th century by the Italian astronomer Giovanni V. Schiaparelli (1879) and expanded in the early 20th century by Eugene M. Antoniadi (1929), a Greek-born astronomer working at Meudon, France. Year 1958 (MCMLVIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... An albedo feature is a large area on the surface of a planet (or other solar system body) which shows a contrast in brightness or darkness (albedo) with adjacent areas. ... Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli (March 14, 1835 – July 4, 1910) was an Italian astronomer. ... Eugène Michel Antoniadi (1870 – February 10, 1944) was a Turkish-born Greek astronomer who spent most of his life in France. ... Meudon is a suburb of Paris in the department of Hauts-de-Seine in northern France. ...


However, the age of space probes brought high-resolution images of various solar system bodies, and it became necessary to propose naming standards for the features seen on them. A space probe is an unmanned space mission in which a spacecraft leaves Earths orbit. ...


Minor planets

The main responsibility for designating and naming minor planets lies on the Committee for Small Body Nomenclature (CSBN).


Minor planets are initially assigned provisional designations when observed, of the form "2001 KX76" (the first part is a year; the second part defines a sequential order of discovery within that year, see provisional designation for details). If enough sightings are obtained of the same minor planet to calculate an orbit, the object is assigned a sequential number - its 'designation' - and it can then be cited as, for instance, (28978) 2001 KX76. Minor planets, or planetoids are minor bodies of the Solar system orbiting the Sun (or of other planetary systems orbiting other stars) that are larger than meteoroids (the largest of which might be taken to be around 10 meters or so across) but smaller than major planets (Mercury having a... The provisional designation of comets and asteroids are similar to each other: they both follow a pattern set in 1925 by the Minor Planet Center of the IAU. Historical designations At first, astronomers strove to assign symbols to the minor planets: 1 Ceres a stylized sickle 2 Pallas a lozenge... The provisional designation of comets and asteroids are similar to each other: they both follow a pattern set in 1925 by the Minor Planet Center of the IAU. Historical designations At first, astronomers strove to assign symbols to the minor planets: 1 Ceres a stylized sickle 2 Pallas a lozenge... (28978) Ixion (ik·sye·un) is a Kuiper belt object discovered on May 22, 2001 with a diameter of < 822 km and a semimajor axis of about 39. ...


After the designation is assigned, the discoverer is given an opportunity to propose a name, which, if it is accepted by the IAU, replaces the provisional designation. Thus for instance, (28978) 2001 KX76 was given the name Ixion and is now known as (28978) Ixion, which is often abridged to 28978 Ixion. The name becomes official after its publication in the Minor Planet Circular with a brief citation explaining its significance. This may be a few years after the initial sighting, or in the case of "lost" asteroids, it may take several decades before they are spotted again and finally assigned a designation. If a minor planet remains unnamed ten years after it has been given a designation, then the right to name it is given also to identifiers of the various apparitions of the object, to discoverers at apparitions other than the official one, to those whose observations contributed extensively to the orbit determination, or to representatives of the observatory at which the official discovery was made. The CSBN has the right to act on its own in naming a minor planet, which often happens when the number assigned to the body is an integral number of thousands. Logo of the IAU The International Astronomical Union (French: Union astronomique internationale) unites national astronomical societies from around the world. ... (Redirected from (28978) Ixion) 28978 Ixion (ik SIGH un, sometimes ICK see un) is a Kuiper belt object discovered on May 22, 2001 with a diameter of approximately 1055 km and a semimajor axis of about 39. ... (28978) Ixion (ik·sye·un) is a Kuiper belt object discovered on May 22, 2001 with a diameter of < 822 km and a semimajor axis of about 39. ... The Minor Planet Circulars (MPCs) (also known as Minor Planets and Comets) are published generally on the date of each full moon by the Minor Planet Center. ...


In recent years automated search efforts such as LINEAR or LONEOS have discovered so many thousands of new asteroids that the Center for Small Body Nomenclature has officially limited naming to a maximum of two names per discoverer every two months. Thus, the overwhelming majority of asteroids discovered from now on will never receive a name. The word linear comes from the Latin word linearis, which means created by lines. ... Lowell Observatory Near-Earth-Object Search (LONEOS) is a program run by NASA and Lowell Observatory to discover near-Earth objects. ...


Under IAU rules, names must be pronouncable, preferably one word (such as Annefrank (5535 Annefrank)), although exceptions are possible (such as James Bond (9007 James Bond)), and since 1982 limited to a maximum length of sixteen characters, including spaces and hyphens. Letters with diacritics are accepted, although the diacritical marks are usually omitted in everyday usage. 4090 Říšehvězd is an asteroid with the most diacritics (four). Military and political leaders are unsuitable until they are dead for 100 years. Nowadays, names of pet animals are discouraged, but there are some from the past. Names after people, companies or products known only for success in business are not accepted, as well as citations that resemble advertising. Image of 5535 Annefrank taken by the Stardust space probe 5535 Annefrank is an inner main belt asteroid, and member of the Augusta family. ... Asteroid 9007 James Bond was discovered on 5 October 1983 by Antonin Mrkos at the Klet Observatory in the Czech Republic. ... A diacritic mark or accent mark is an additional mark added to a basic letter. ...


Whimsical names can be used for relatively ordinary asteroids (such as 26858 Misterrogers), but those belonging to certain dynamical groups are expected to follow more strictly defined naming schemes. 26858 Misterrogers is a Main Belt asteroid named after beloved childrens television host Mister Rogers. ...

  • Trojan asteroids (those that librate in 1:1 resonance with Jupiter) are named for heroes of the Trojan War. Asteroids at Lagrangian point L4 are named after Greek warriors (such as 588 Achilles) and asteroids at L5 after Trojans (such as 884 Priamus).
  • Trans-Jovian planetoids crossing or approaching the orbit of a giant planet but not in a stabilizing resonance are named for centaurs (such as 2060 Chiron).
  • Objects crossing or approaching the orbit of Neptune and in stabilizing resonances other than 1:1 are given mythological names associated with the underworld (such as 90482 Orcus).
  • Objects sufficiently outside Neptune's orbit that orbital stability is reasonably assured for a substantial fraction of the lifetime of the solar system are given mythological names associated with creation (such as 50000 Quaoar).
  • Objects that approach or cross Earth's orbit are given mythological names (such as 1862 Apollo).

As originally defined, Trojan asteroids have a semi-major axis between 5. ... The animation shows a set of simulated views of the Moon over one month, like a picture taken at the same time each day. ... In celestial mechanics, an orbital resonance occurs when two orbiting bodies exert a regular, periodic gravitational influence on each other. ... The fall of Troy by Johann Georg Trautmann (1713–1769) From the collections of the granddukes of Baden, Karlsruhe The Trojan War was waged, according to legend, against the city of Troy in Asia Minor , by the armies of the Achaeans (Mycenaean Greeks), after Paris of Troy stole Helen from... A contour plot of the effective potential of a two-body system (the Sun and Earth here), showing the five Lagrange points. ... 588 Achilles is an asteroid discovered on February 22, 1906 by the German astronomer Max Wolf. ... 884 Priamus is a Trojan asteroid that orbits the Sun at the same distance as the planet Jupiter. ... The centaurs are a class of icy planetoids that orbit the Sun between Jupiter and Neptune, named after the mythical race of centaurs. ... The solar systems four gas giants against the Suns limb, to scale A gas giant (sometimes also known as a Jovian planet after the planet Jupiter) is a large planet that is not primarily composed of rock or other solid matter. ... Painting by Sebastiano Ricci, of Centaurs at the marriage of Pirithous, king of the Lapithae In Greek mythology, the centaurs (Greek: Κένταυροι) are a race of creatures composed of part human and part horse. ... 2060 Chiron (IPA: ) is an object in the outer solar system with an orbit between those of Saturn and Uranus and a radius of 71±5 km [1]. Although it was initially classified as an asteroid, later dispute arose as to whether it was an asteroid or actually a comet. ... // In the study of mythology and religion, the underworld is a generic term approximately equivalent to the lay term afterlife, referring to any place to which newly dead souls go. ... 90482 Orcus (originally known by the provisional designation 2004 DW) is a Kuiper Belt object (KBO) that was discovered by Michael Brown of Caltech, Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory, and David Rabinowitz of Yale University. ... Major features of the Solar System (not to scale, from left to right): Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, a comet, Jupiter, Ceres which lies in the asteroid belt, the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth & Moon, and Mars. ... Artists impression by G. Bacon of STScI / NASA 50000 Quaoar (pronounced kwah·war, kwah·wor, or kwow·ur, Tongva ) [1] is a Trans-Neptunian object orbiting the Sun in the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt. ... 1862 Apollo is a Q-type asteroid, discovered by Karl Reinmuth in 1932, but lost and not recovered until 1973. ...

Comets

The names given to comets have followed several different conventions over the past two centuries. Before any systematic naming convention was adopted, comets were named in a variety of ways. The first one to be named was "Halley's Comet" (now officially known as Comet Halley), named after Edmund Halley, who had calculated its orbit. Similarly, the second known periodic comet, Comet Encke, was named after the astronomer who had calculated its orbit rather than the original discoverer of the comet. Other comets that bore the possessive include "Biela's Comet" (3D/Biela) and "Miss Herschel's Comet" (35P/Herschel-Rigollet, or Comet Herschel-Rigollet). Most bright (non-periodic) comets were referred to as 'The Great Comet Of...' the year in which they appeared. Halleys Comet, officially designated 1P/Halley and also referred to as Comet Halley after Edmond Halley, is a comet that can be seen every 75-76 years. ... Edmond Halley. ... Comet Encke (officially designated 2P/Encke) is a periodic comet, named after Johann Franz Encke, who through laborious study of its orbit and many calculations was able to link multiple observations in 1786 (2P/1786 B1), 1795 (2P/1795 V1), 1805 (2P/1805 U1) and 1818 (2P/1818 W1) to... 3D/Biela is the official designation for a lost periodic comet discovered in 1826 by Wilhelm von Biela. ...


In the early 20th century, the convention of naming comets after their discoverers became common, and this remains today. A comet is named after up to its first three independent discoverers. In recent years, many comets have been discovered by instruments operated by large teams of astronomers, and in this case, comets may be named for the instrument (for example, Comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock (C/1983 H1) was discovered independently by the IRAS satellite and amateur astronomers Genichi Araki and George Alcock). Comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock (C/1983 H1) was a small comet that, in 1983, made the closest approach to the earth (about 5,000,000 km) of any comet in 200 years. ... The Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) was a space-based observatory that performed a survey of the entire sky at infrared wavelengths. ... George Eric Deacon Alcock (August 28, 1912 &#8211; December 15, 2000) was a British astronomer. ...


Until 1994, the systematic naming of comets (the "Old Style") involved first giving them a provisional designation of the year of their discovery followed by a lower case letter indicating its order of discovery in that year (e.g. the first Comet Bennett is 1969i, the 9th comet discovered in 1969). In 1987, more than 26 comets were discovered, so the alphabet was used again with a "1" subscript, very much like what is still done with asteroids (an example is Comet Skorichenko-George, 1989e1). The record year was 1989, which went as high as 1989h1. Once an orbit had been established, the comet was given a permanent designation in order of time of perihelion passage, consisting of the year followed by a Roman numeral. For example, Comet Bennett (1969i) became 1970 II. 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated as the International Year of the Family and the International Year of the Sport and the Olympic Ideal by United Nations. ... Comet Bennett, formally known as C/1969 Y1, was one of two brilliant comets to grace the 1970s, along with Comet West. ... Comet Skorichenko-George (sometimes spelled Scorichenko-George) is also designated C/1989 Y1, 1990 VI, and 1989e1. ... This article is about several astronomical terms (apogee & perigee, aphelion & perihelion, generic equivalents based on apsis, and related but rarer terms. ... The system of Roman numerals is a numeral system originating in ancient Rome, and was adapted from Etruscan numerals. ... Comet Bennett, formally known as C/1969 Y1 (old style 1970 II and 1969i), was one of two brilliant comets to grace the 1970s, along with Comet West. ...


Increasing numbers of comet discoveries made this procedure difficult to operate, and in 1994 the International Astronomical Union approved a new naming system (the "New Style"). Comets are now designated by the year of their discovery followed by a letter indicating the half-month of the discovery and a number indicating the order of discovery, so that the fourth comet discovered in the second half of February 2006 would be designated 2006 D4. Prefixes are also added to indicate the nature of the comet, with P/ indicating a periodic comet, C/ indicating a non-periodic comet, X/ indicating a comet for which no reliable orbit could be calculated, and D/ indicating a comet which has broken up or been lost. Periodic comets also have a number indicating the order of their discovery. Thus Bennett's comet has the systematic designation C/1969 Y1. Halley's Comet, the first comet to be identified as periodic, has the systematic name 1P/1682 Q1. Comet Hale-Bopp's systematic name is C/1995 O1. The famous Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was the ninth periodic comet jointly discovered by Carolyn Shoemaker, Eugene Shoemaker, and David Levy (the Shoemaker-Levy team has also discovered four non-periodic comets interspersed with the periodic ones), but its systematic name is D/1993 F2 (it was discovered in 1993 and the prefix "D/" is applied, since it was observed to crash into Jupiter). Logo of the IAU The International Astronomical Union (French: Union astronomique internationale) unites national astronomical societies from around the world. ... Comet Bennett, formally known as C/1969 Y1, was one of two brilliant comets to grace the 1970s, along with Comet West. ... Comet Halley as taken with the Halley Multicolor Camera on the ESA Giotto mission. ... Comet Hale-Bopp (formally designated C/1995 O1) was probably the most widely observed comet of the 20th century, and one of the brightest seen for many decades. ... Comet Hale-Bopp, showing a white dust tail and blue gas tail - February 1997 Comet Hale-Bopp (formally designated as C/1995 O1) was probably the most widely-observed comet of the last century, and one of the most spectacular seen for many decades. ... Hubble Space Telescope image of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, taken on May 17, 1994. ... Carolyn Jean Spellmann Shoemaker (born 1929) is a co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 and wife to Eugene Shoemaker. ... Eugene Shoemaker at a stereoscopic microscope used for asteroid discovery Eugene Merle Shoemaker (or Gene Shoemaker) (April 28, 1928 &#8211; July 18, 1997) was one of the founders of the fields of planetary science and is best known for co-discovering the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with his wife Carolyn... David H. Levy (born 1948) is a Canadian astronomer and science writer most famous for his co-discovery of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which collided with the planet Jupiter in 1994. ... Hubble Space Telescope image taken on May 17, 1994. ... 1993 (MCMXCIII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and marked the Beginning of the International Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (1993-2003). ... Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure 70 kPa Hydrogen ~86% Helium ~14% Methane 0. ...

See also : Astronomical objects named after people

There are probably a few thousand astronomical objects named after people. ...

Designations for extra-solar planets

At the moment, according to the IAU, there is no agreed system for designating planets orbiting around other stars, nor is there any plan to create a naming system for extra-solar planets [1]. A trend that is gaining prominence uses a lower-case letter (starting with "b") to extend the star's designation. For example, HD 188753 Ab is the first extrasolar planet found around the star HD 188753 A, itself a member of the triple star system HD 188753. HD 188753 Ab is the first known planet in a triple star system. ... An extrasolar planet, or exoplanet, is a planet beyond the Solar System. ... Triple sunset - artist concept (Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech) HD 188753 is a triple star system located approximately 149 light years away from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. ... HD 188753 is a triple star system approximately 149 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. ...


See also

Planetary nomenclature, like terrestrial nomenclature, is used to uniquely identify a feature on the surface of a planet or natural satellite so that the feature can be easily located, described, and discussed. ... There are probably a few thousand astronomical objects named after people. ... This article needs cleanup. ... Bright stars can be bright because they produce more light, because they are closer to us, or both. ... This is a list of numbered minor planets, nearly all of them asteroids, in sequential order. ... The naming of natural satellites has been the responsibility of the IAUs committee for Planetary System Nomenclature since 1973. ... Provisional designation of in astronomy is the naming convention applied to astronomical objects immediately following their discovery. ...

References

  • Dorrit Hoffleit, and Wayne H. Warren Jr., The Bright Star Catalogue, 5th Revised Ed. (Preliminary Version), Astronomical Data Center, NSSDC/ADC (1991), available online at [2]

Dorrit Hoffleit is a senior research astronomer at Yale University. ...

External links


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