What’s in a name?

If you are a member of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), alot. With the large amounts of exoplanets being discovered a subtle, but important issue has arrisen. What do we call all those planets?

Right now there is the “official” name (something boring like 51 Pegasi b, or PSR B1620-26 c) and then there is the rest of the world. Some have suggested that the IAU is trying to claim naming right to the whole Universe, other say that they are simply trying to claim the whole Universe.

I don’t think either of those are the case, but I do believe that the IAU needs to be overhauled. I mean they still can’t tell me what a planet is, this of course goes back to my arguement that Pluto is a planet (go New Horizons!). But that is only one example of how out of touch the IAU seems to be with the rest of the world.

We regularly have scientists that are members of the IAU or others that attend the meetings speak at our astronomical societies meetings (always open to the public!). After speaking with many of them, I have discovered that most of them have seen some of the pictures from Hubble, but don’t actually go out and observe the night sky in all its splendor. It is a shame, but most of them are crunching numbers and actually only know the Universe that way.

Perhaps it is time that the scientists came out of the lab and met with the rest of the Universe, up close and personal. Perhaps even talking to a few non-scientists (I find children under the age of 12 extremely insightful) and see if that can’t expand there horizons.

So if you are like Uwingu and want to run a harmless contest to name some of the exo-planets, watch out the IAU will be issuing nasty retorts your way.

At least NASA gets it, after all they named the 5th moon around Pluto Vulcan after a twitter bomb by Shatner and Nimoy. Heck, even Colbert got a treadmill named after him on the ISS. Come on IAU, get with the program…engage the public…don’t push them away.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +. If you need help with any patent, trademark, or copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.