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Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Naming X": Contest to Name an Asteroid

Can you come up with a name for an asteroid, aka minor planet, by May 30? Yes, I know it's short notice, and I apologize for not posting this earlier. Blame it on the heavy workload of my Swinburne class on galaxies, including a 10-12 page single-spaced paper due on June 5.

As a tribute to the late Venetia Burney Phair, and the late Clyde Tombaugh, the Space Renaissance Education Chapter and Father Films (the creator of the film "Naming Pluto," still due for a review on this blog), with the support of the Committee for Small Body Nomenclature of the IAU, is holding this contest to find a name for one of our solar system's many unnamed asteroids.

More information can be found here:

Here is some information from the web site:

"Winning names will pass through the same judging process as any other minor planet name proposals from discoverers or orbit computers.
The process is detailed and can take from 4 to 6months for a decision to be made, so there is no guarantee that Naming X’s winning names will be accepted, applied or used. 

However, the important fact to remember is that there are minor planets out there in space waiting to be named. And you could name one of them.

Naming X is giving you a unique platform in which to think creatively, use your imagination and make a historical contribution to astronomy, like Venetia did. Reach for the stars!

Competition Rules   
  • Entrants must choose one name per entry and their reasoning for their choice of name is to be no longer than 25 words
  • Please enter your name, year, age and school’s name, City and Country and email address.
  • In the subject box write the Category you are entering and your chosen name only, ie: Category 1 - Pluto. Please abide to this format or your name will not be considered.  
  • Should the same name be submitted by different applicants, the first to be submitted will be selected, so hurry!
  • Winning entries are at the sole discretion of the judges and their decisions are final. Submissions after the deadline will not be accepted. 
To adhere to the CSBN’s naming of minor planet protocol suggested names must be: 
  • 16 characters or less in length preferably one word
  • pronounceable (in some language)
  • non-offensive
  • not too similar to an existing name of a Minor Planet or natural Planetary satellite.
 The names of individuals or events principally known for political or military activities are unsuitable until 100 years after the death of the individual or the occurrence of the event.
In addition
  • names of pet animals are discouraged
  • names of a purely or principally commercial nature are not allowed.
  • Be as creative as you can. Think within the guidelines and outside the box. Remember we live in a different world and have made vast scientific advances since 1930.  
This could be your opportunity to make a contribution to astronomical history. Good luck!

Category 1 – for 1 – 11years 
Category 2 – 12+ 
Category 3 – School groups  

-Category 1 resist help from your tutors or parents.
-Category 3 means that a classroom, a school or an after school group can enter as a team. 


Submissions to Naming X closes on 30th May 2010 and winning names will be announced around June 14th 2010.
Winning names will receive the following:

  • A signed certificate from our judging panel
  • Your name will be included in a working paper and presented formally to the CSBN of the IAU
  • Telescope time from Bellatrix Observatory, Italy with guidance of a professional astronomer. All you will need is Internet connectivity.
  • A copy of the award winning short film of Venetia’s story, Naming Pluto and an A3 film poster, both care of Father Films
Judging Panel 
We have the A-team of judging panels. We are very lucky to have them support Naming X. You can see their biographies and impressive portfolio of astronomical achievements

David Levy
Professor Ian Morison
Dr. Marc Buie

Educators, Carolina Odman, Julia Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Ivey-Duensing and Joan Chamberlin will also assist. The competition is coordinated by Thilina Heenatigala (Space Renaissance Education Chapter) and Ginita Jimenez (Father Films).
IMPORTANT: In the subject line of email, please include the Category and Name you are proposing.
e.g: Category 1 - Pluto

 Send your submission to before 30th May 2010"
Here are a few important notes to consider:

This contest is open to all ages, children and adults. Adults entering should list themselves under Category 2, which has no upper limit, giving their ages as 18+

Before submitting a name, please check the above link of existing names of minor planets, so you don't inadvertently submit a name already in use.

This contest is to name one minor planet and also to promote astronomy education and outreach. There are actually hundreds of minor planets that remain unnamed. So if you don't win, hold on to the name you chose--it still might end up being used.

Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris are not minor planets. However, these names are considered to be in use and should not be submitted.

Again, I apologize for the late notice of this opportunity. Hopefully, most people will find it easier to come up with a minor planet name by May 30 than to write a 10-12 page paper on the Milky Way by June 5--though getting hooked on astronomy may result in you winding up in the latter situation sooner rather than later. :)


Alan Boyle continues to do a terrific job making the case for planet Pluto--and for planets Ceres, Eris, etc.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mysterious Pluto

Mysterious Pluto

This short video discusses Pluto as a dynamic world, a planet and not simply an "iceball."