Vote on Names for Exoplanets in 20 Different Star Systems!
The International Astronomical Union, the official body that actually names all celestial objects, has opened up the naming of some of the newly discovered extraterrestrial planets (and the stars they are orbiting) for the FIRST TIME EVER.
Usually naming stars and planets is their sole domain, but with over 1800 confirmed exoplanets in the catalog, most with hard-to-remember numerical designations, the IAU has decided to open up a bit.
They invited space organizations to submit proposals to name the objects in one of the 20 designated star systems. Now they have opened up voting on the proposed names to the public from now until October 31, 2015. You can cast your vote at http://nameexoworlds.iau.org.
Yuri's Night, submitted a proposal to name the star system closest to Earth. It consists of a gas giant orbiting a star named epsilon Eridani that is only 10 light years away (the closest star to Earth is 4 light years away). It may have another smaller planet in the system as well, but that candidate is not yet confirmed (or nameable). Epsilon Eridani is in the constellation "Eridani" which is Latin for river.
Because of this we proposed the name "Dijla" for the gas giant, which is the Arabic name for the Tigris River. Arabic is the language that many of the stars were named in long ago, including Betelgeuse, Rigel, Aldebaran, and Altair. Honoring this tradition we selected Dijla as a beautiful planetary name to honor a powerful and important river.
Each voter can vote on a name for each of the 20 designated planetary systems, including Formalhaut, Pollux, and 47 Ursae Majoris. Over 150,000 votes have been cast so far! I hope you will look over the submissions and pick ones that will help our grandkids navigate the stars!
VOTE HERE BEFORE OCTOBER 31, 2015: http://nameexoworlds.iau.org/exoworldsvote.
Special thanks to Alpha-Element for creating the awesome art of Epsilon Eridani b!