NASA’s Webb Telescope Will Observe Exoplanets, And You Have A Chance To Name Them

Among the wonders it discovers and observes are exoplanetary systems, each of which consists of a planet outside our solar system and its host star, and many of them need a name.

The IAU wants this to be a collaborative affair, so participants should assemble a team that includes educators, students, astronomy enthusiasts, or professional or amateur astronomers.

Once the team has chosen their favorite names for one exoplanet and its host star, they must organize a community outreach event that educates the public about exoplanets. Only then can the team submit a written and video proposal with the names and justification for their choices.

The video must not exceed three minutes and the essay must not exceed 300 words. The team must also write a report of no more than 300 words on their public outreach initiative, which could include a lecture by a scientist on exoplanet discoveries, and submit photos or videos of the event.

You can register via this form.

Naming Guidelines

If you were hoping to name a planet after yourself, you’re out of luck.

Naming an exoplanetary system is a huge responsibility, so the IAU has prepared a list of guidelines to follow.

For starters, the names must have long-lasting cultural, geographic, or historical significance. Indigenous names are encouraged, but any team that proposes one must be led by a member of an Indigenous community.

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In addition, the name of the exoplanet and its host star must follow the same theme, meaning they must be related in some way.

Teams cannot submit names of people, pets, or organizations. Terms related to political, military or religious activities are also not allowed.

The public can submit their names until November 11, 2022.

National vetting processes will take place between November 15 and December 15, 2022, and each country will select one proposal along with two backups. After that, an international committee will review the entries and choose one for each exoplanet between December 16, 2022 and March 16, 2023.

The winning names will be announced on March 20, 2023.

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