View Full Version : The process of naming astronomical bodies?

2014-Oct-04, 02:28 AM
I get the feeling that the naming of astronomical bodies is a slow process due to many factors. As I understand it, every item is given a provisional name when discovered. Then the discoverer offers a name. Then what? Why does it take so long?

In my mind, I am sort of picturing a team discovering astronomical bodies and then moving on because perhaps the discovery wasn't their goal. If someone (anyone) has time, specific information is nailed down so the body can be categorized correctly and then the process of reviewing the offered name proceeds. Is this correct?

Does it really come down to someone simply not having enough time and resources to pursue an academic or study goal and collect enough data to categorize an body? Is this why people run back to previous observations, to quickly nail down characteristic without more 'scope time?

2014-Oct-04, 06:15 AM
Most bodies are given a systematic name according to the IAU rules (http://www.iau.org/public/themes/naming/). The other names generally have no actual acceptance. Minor planets are the only exception I can think of - and the main reason for the delay there is that these need to be characterised in terms of their orbits so that they know that the objects have not been named before and don't below to one of the groups with special naming conventions. Then they have to make sure the name is acceptable to member nations.