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Space

Nearest Alien Planet Gets New Name 185

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-planet-by-any-other-name dept.
SchrodingerZ writes "The nearest planet outside our solar system has recently been named Albertus Alauda. Originally named Alpha Centauri Bb, the planet is the closest known planet not orbiting the Sun, being a mere 4.3 light years away. The name comes from Jay Lark, who won the naming contest held by Uwingu starting last month and ending on April 22. Lark remarks that the name comes from the Latin name of his late grandfather, stating, "My grandfather passed away after a lengthy and valiant battle with cancer; his name in Latin means noble or bright and to praise or extol." The competition for naming the planet came from Uwing, a company which used the buying of name proposals and votes to fund grants for future space exploration ventures. Albertus Alauda won the competition with 751 votes, followed by Rakhat with 684 votes, and Caleo, with 622 votes."
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Nearest Alien Planet Gets New Name

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  • Sid Meier (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 28, 2013 @05:23PM (#43576589)

    The only known planet in Alpha Centauri should naturally have been named "Sid Meier". Any other name will be forgotten in no time by most people.

  • Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 28, 2013 @05:26PM (#43576613)

    I'm not sure what to be more surprised about, that 751 suckers paid money to vote on a meaningless name competition, or that slashdot got duped into publishing it as if anyone other than Uwing will actually use the name.

    This is just another variant on those "name a star after your mom" scams.

    • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Informative)

      by Smallpond (221300) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @05:32PM (#43576677) Homepage Journal

      The IAU called it a scam and space.com [space.com] called it a scam. So its a scam.

      • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Informative)

        by Cow Jones (615566) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @06:32PM (#43576987)

        Mod this man up.

        From the space.com article, here's what Uwingu's CEO had to say...

        "They basically said we're conducting a scam, and nothing could be further from the truth," [...] "They basically put us out of business, and they've ruined our reputation."

        "To claim what they claimed — that we're somehow misrepresenting that these were IAU names — has just about put us out of business," Stern told SPACE.com. "It's unbelievable."

        "They've spent 18 years with no forward movement — ask planet hunter extraordinaire [and Uwingu adviser] Geoff Marcy," Stern said. "Then somebody else comes along and does something harmless, fun and engaging, and now they're slandering us."

        Oh cry me a river...

        CJ

        • by jfanning (35979)

          Before joining in the beating maybe you should actually check who is involved. I think these people know the issues about the naming of astronomical bodies...

          Dr. Alan Stern. Alan is an aerospace consultant and an Associate Vice President at the Southwest Research Institute, a large non-profit R&D institution with over 3400 employees, and operates a successful private aerospace consulting practice. Formerly, he directed all science program and missions at NASA.

          • by Kentari (1265084)
            Aerospace consultant? Did the shipbuilders also get to name the discoveries of explorers? But I highly doubt he was even involved in building the HARPS instrument or the ESO 3.6m Telescope. So it would be like some random ship builder in England naming Hispaniola "Some bloke's passed away granddad's place" after doing a contest about it and expect it to be accepted. What these Uwingu guys are doing is disrespectful for the discoverers, the IAU and the granddad. I wouldn't like it if people attached my name
      • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by meerling (1487879) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @07:48PM (#43577321)
        Correct.
        Anybody can claim to be running a contest to name anything, legality not withstanding, however, only the body/organization that is internationally recognized as the valid naming registrar can actually place or change names. In this case, it's the IAU (International Astronomical Union).
        Uwing claims they didn't say they were sanctioned to do so by IAU, but then again, they didn't say they weren't, and most people will assume that you had obtained permission to do something you are taking money for unless you say otherwise. To not point out that it is an unofficial name choosing, is the first sign of a scam.

        Another thing, if you see anyone wanting money for ANYTHING not within the confines of the Earths Troposphere, it's about 99.999% probably it's a scam. You won't get any property, rights, or official naming of anything. There are international treaties that cover a lot of this stuff, and one of the first rules in that whole thing is if you don't have people their, you definitely have no rights to sell it, period. (Even if you do have people there, you still have lots of limits on what you can do.)

        By the way, horrible name choice in my opinion. Nice to honor your grandfather, but still, that name sucks.
        • by Teancum (67324)

          This is no different than people who sell parcels of land on the Moon or Mars, or name stars with a "Star Registry registered with the U.S. Copyright Office" (aka they put the book together and "registered" a "copyright" on the list of names with the Library of Congress... something that costs about $50 and doesn't mean a damn thing other than you can't publish those names elsewhere without permission).

          I should note there are geographical naming boards like the IAU who work with terrestrial landmarks as wel

      • by rossdee (243626)

        "The IAU called it a scam"

        But then they also called Pluto not-a-planet

        I propose that the first human(s) to land on it, or at least orbit it, get to name it.

        Unless it is inhabited already, in which case they get to name it.

        did anybody asl Peter Jurasik and Stephen Furst ?

      • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

        by simonbp (412489) on Monday April 29, 2013 @12:42AM (#43578461) Homepage

        To quite honest, and speaking as a working professional astronomer, the IAU itself is a bit of scam. It has no actual authority, no actual acountability, and no real sway on science. It's more a bunch of astronomers who should have been lawyers and who occasionally meet and pretend they are important. Oh and they charge an arm and leg for membership, which is why the vast majority of astronomers are not members.

        In reality astronomy doesn't really need an "international authority". The sky is the sky and observations are almost always reproducible. If someone doesn't believe you, they can go and observe it themselves. That's called the scientific method. It does not need nor is enhanced by lawyers-cum-astronomers.

        • the IAU are like taxonomists, they are only noticed when they fail, and there is a dispute or confusion over a name ....

  • Authority... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imsabbel (611519) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @05:27PM (#43576619)

    Well, that fine.

    But I name that planet Bob. And seeing that have just as much authority to name extraterestial bodies as this company that isn't even important enough to have a wikipedia article.

    • No, sorry matey, my authority outranks yours, as I have 3 ex-wives.
      I hereby name this planet: Eric
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      But I name that planet Bob...seeing that I have just as much authority to name...

      Just to tick you off, I'm going to rename it "Bob" spelled backwards! Take that!

      • But I name that planet Bob...seeing that I have just as much authority to name...

        Just to tick you off, I'm going to rename it "Bob" spelled backwards! Take that!

        "boB" ... has a nice look to it ..

    • I'd be willing to bet that at least 1000 people would consider the naming company to have more authority than you. If for no other reason than the fact that they paid money to that company.

      However, given that there would be 1000 of them, to one of you, I don't think that you can actually claim to have more authority.

    • The owls are not what they seem.

  • by jmauro (32523) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @05:27PM (#43576627)

    You get a nice certificate and nothing else. The IAU hasn't even started the process to create the procedure to name exoplanets [iau.org].

  • Total bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kjella (173770) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @05:29PM (#43576653) Homepage

    The recognized standards body is the International Astronomical Union and their policy is [iau.org]:

    Exoplanets
    In 2009, the Organizing Committee of IAU Commission 53 Extrasolar Planets (WGESP) on exoplanets discussed the possibility of giving popular names to exoplanets in addition to their existing catalogue designation (for instance HD 85512 b). Although no consensus was reached, the majority was not in favour of this possibility at the time.

    However, considering the ever increasing interest of the general public in being involved in the discovery and understanding of the Universe, the IAU decided in 2013 to restart the discussion of the naming procedure for exoplanets and assess the need to have popular names as well. In 2013 the members of Commission 53 will be consulted in this respect and the result of this will be made public on this page.

    This is just a company click-baiting by holding naming contests, they have no official standing whatsoever. Is this more dice.com crap?

    • If the IAU can't get off their collective asses and start doing their job properly, then they'll soon find themselves outvoted by the likes of Uwingu who are going to do it for them. The IAU only has the position it has because they did a good job of gaining consensus until recently with the whole Pluto fiasco. And if you don't think that was a fiasco, then you don't know enough about it. If they screw up exoplanet naming, then people are going to start looking to someone else or just ignore the IAU. No

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by awrc (12953)

        Get off their collective asses? What's the urgency? Are the names of these exoplanets going to have any significance to *anybody* other than astronomers anytime soon? For values of "soon" that could measure in centuries. It's not as if somebody's desperately waiting on this information so they can put out bus timetables.

      • Re:Total bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

        by bryonak (836632) on Monday April 29, 2013 @02:12AM (#43578679)

        I don't think it was a fiasco at all. Keep in mind that having 9 planets is out of question.
        For starters, you'd have a hard time arguing that Pluto is a planet while Ceres isn't.

        Either we designate Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, Eris (notably bigger and more massive than Pluto) and possibly Orcus, Quaoar, OR and Sedna as planets... or we stay with Mercury up to Neptune.
        There's a clear orbital distinction between the first 8 and the other 9+, so it really makes sense to group them in two categories, especially since we aren't sure at all that we have found all dwarf planets yet.

        • by arth1 (260657)

          Eris (notably bigger and more massive than Pluto)

          Higher mass, yes. Bigger, no. Eris and Pluto are almost exactly the same size, and it's up in the air which one is actually a tiny bit bigger. Eris is most certainly not "notably bigger".
          The mass of the Eris and Pluto systems are also close enough that "notably" shouldn't be used.

          But what makes Eris less of a planet candidate than Pluto is that Eris' orbit is way way more eccentric than Pluto's. Yes, Pluto moves at an angle to the ecliptic, and in an elliptic orbit too, but not nearly to the same degree

          • by Shadowmist (57488)

            .

            At least Pluto is in lockstep with Neptune, and thus clearly belong in the solar system. Eris moves almost twice the distance away from Neptune, at a 45 degree angle to the ecliptic (more than twice that of Pluto). That's not what I'd think of as planetary motion.

            As I understand it, being in "lockstep" with another planet is not part of the scientific definition of planethood. If it were, then we'd have some problems. Anything that orbits the Sun is by definition, a "proper member of the solar system." The thing here is about differentiating all these "proper" members into more useful divisions. Neither Pluto, nor Eris have cleared out the areas bordering their orbits. While they are circular bodies, numbers alone have demonstrated that that by itself woul

            • by arth1 (260657)

              As I understand it, being in "lockstep" with another planet is not part of the scientific definition of planethood. If it were, then we'd have some problems.

              No, but having an orbit that's been stable for and will continue to be stable for millions of years is a good start. Neptune won't suddenly pull Pluto out of its orbit, because their orbits are synchronized at a 2:3 rate. It's less clear how long-term stable Eris' orbit is.

              Neither Pluto, nor Eris have cleared out the areas bordering their orbits.

              Neither has Mars. Jupiter and Tellus keep Mars' orbit relatively clean, which it's too small to do itself, but there's still enough debris in its orbit that it occasionally runs into it (which Phobos and Deimos prove). The definition

    • by Shadowmist (57488)

      The recognized standards body is the International Astronomical Union and their policy is [iau.org]:

      Exoplanets In 2009, the Organizing Committee of IAU Commission 53 Extrasolar Planets (WGESP) on exoplanets discussed the possibility of giving popular names to exoplanets in addition to their existing catalogue designation (for instance HD 85512 b). Although no consensus was reached, the majority was not in favour of this possibility at the time.

      However, considering the ever increasing interest of the general public in being involved in the discovery and understanding of the Universe, the IAU decided in 2013 to restart the discussion of the naming procedure for exoplanets and assess the need to have popular names as well. In 2013 the members of Commission 53 will be consulted in this respect and the result of this will be made public on this page.

      This is just a company click-baiting by holding naming contests, they have no official standing whatsoever. Is this more dice.com crap?

      Was this started by the public wish of one of the discoverers of remote ice dwarfs beyond Pluto to have his discovery named Xena?

  • by jmpace2017 (839325) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @05:30PM (#43576655)
    I think the International Astronomical union is the only "Earthly" organization to assign official names to astronomical objects...
  • Here's an idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordNimon (85072) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @05:37PM (#43576713)

    How about ... the first person to set foot on the planet gets to name it?

  • His name is Dirt.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sstamps (39313) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @05:41PM (#43576729) Homepage

    When the native Alaudans were asked "what does the name of your planet mean in your tongue?"

    "Dirt", they replied.

  • Koozebane (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SplashMyBandit (1543257) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @05:57PM (#43576799)
    Damn he won the contest. As a former member of a team that discovered planets using gravitational microlensing I always wanted to get the chance to name a planet "Koozebane", which is the planet many muppet aliens (supposedly) come from. Instead they got named boring things like "MACHO-98-BLG-35". Lucky guy to name the planet.
    • Re:Koozebane (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @07:51PM (#43577339) Homepage
      This is precisely why I want scientists naming planets according to an accepted method of taxonomy. Koozebane? Seriously? Because muppets? I like the muppets as much as the next man but come on - a heavenly object stuck with a ridiculous name like that forever just because some guy thought it would be funny? Ugh no.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Fair enough, but there is no accepted taxonomy for planets. In the case of the gravitational microlensing planetary events it is an accident of project, year and event within the year. In short, arbitrary and meaningless. Then we can take plenty of the traditional star names out there, eg. "Algol" from Arabic Al Gol "The ghoul" or "winking demon" from its variable nature. That is no less ridiculous than Koozebane, and less funny.
      • This happens anyway. You do know why Eris's moon is called Dysnomia [wikipedia.org], right?

      • This is precisely why I want scientists naming planets according to an accepted method of taxonomy. Koozebane? Seriously? Because muppets? I like the muppets as much as the next man but come on - a heavenly object stuck with a ridiculous name like that forever just because some guy thought it would be funny? Ugh no.

        Then you had better not look at the names of asteroids... some of them are pretty whimsical. "19383 Rolling Stones" is just an example.

  • They could lease naming rights to companies. I can see it now.

    The intersteller transport to the nearby colony planet of Godaddy.com will depart shortly. There will be a brief layover on the forest moon of Playtex Gentle Glide. I remind you again that exporting any sentient vegetation from the planet Monsanto is strictly forbidden.

  • What do the residents of the planet have to say about this?

  • Was this by international treaty? As they say, "I don't remember voting for you."

    • by kinthalas (102827)

      So we vote for science now? Whatever is most popular gets to be true?

      Who would you want to be in charge of this? I tend to think that an international committee of actual astronomers is probably going to do a better job than letting a company decide.

      • by schnell (163007)

        So we vote for science now? Whatever is most popular gets to be true?

        Not about what is true, about what things are named. Scientific truth is objective, names are not. Is it "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" or "North Korea?" "Denali" or "Mount McKinley?" "Strategic Defense Initiative" or "Star Wars?" "Gravina Island Bridge" or "Bridge to Nowhere?"

        The moral of the story is that a thing is called what people want to call it. Even if your name is the "official" one, it doesn't matter much if everybody else calls it something else.

  • Only 700 votes? We could easily have had a planet named SlashDot!

  • by Nimey (114278) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @06:47PM (#43577047) Homepage Journal

    The fuck, man? Posting a story that 700-some idiots paid actual money to have a chance to give an exoplanet a non-official name and pretending like it means something?

    Is this Slashdot or is it Entertainment Weekly?

    • I have no mod points laying around, but I'd mod parent up. Just because space.com picks up a story doesn't make it newsworthy. What's next? Dig up some story about how you can plots of land on the Moon?

      Anybody want to buy an Asteroid? I'm giving a $25,000 discount to the first 10 buyers!

      • Dig up some story about how you can plots of land on the Moon?

        That sounds like an awesome story! Those must be some big cans. How do you get them to the Moon and what do you do with them afterward?

    • by Shadowmist (57488)

      The fuck, man? Posting a story that 700-some idiots paid actual money to have a chance to give an exoplanet a non-official name and pretending like it means something?

      Is this Slashdot or is it Entertainment Weekly?

      You mean there's a difference?

  • It's Albertus Alauda, powered by Dice (TM).
  • um. no. some dotcom doesn't get to sell naming rights to planets. and some dude doesn't get to immortalize his papa because he can fill in an online form. gramps may have been awesome, but he doesn't get the nearest extra-solar planet named after him...

  • The second planet now known to be wasted by humans.
  • by xenoc_1 (140817) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @07:25PM (#43577207)

    Wouldn't the obvious choice be Zephram? After all, he was from Alpha Centuri before he was from Montana.

    Well, depending on your subjective timeline, that is.

    Either that, or name it Londo.

    • Wouldn't the obvious choice be Zephram? After all, he was from Alpha Centuri before he was from Montana.

      He was always born on Earth, regardless of time-line. When TOS referred to him as "Zefram Cochrane from Alpha Centauri" they were referring to the location where he eventually settled. As the inventor of Warp Drive, there's no way any humans could have gotten to Alpha Centauri before Cochrane was born.

      Let's focus our First Contact continuity complaints on the Borg Queen. What a horrible idea that was...

      • by kst (168867)

        In the original episode "Metamorphosis", it wasn't clear where Cochrane was originally from. He could have been a humanoid native of a planet in the the Alpha Centauri system (at the time I thought "Zefram Cochrane" was a sufficiently exotic name that he could have been non-human). Or, more likely, he could have been born in a colony established by sublight ships; we know from "Space Seed" that there were sublight sleeper ships before the invention of warp drive.

        Annoying quibble: Kirk's line was "Zefram Coc

        • (at the time I thought "Zefram Cochrane" was a sufficiently exotic name that he could have been non-human)

          I was going to point out how this doesn't make any sense, when I was suddenly reminded almost every alien in TOS looked exactly like a human. Including Klingons, which looked like bearded humans. It's been too long, I think it's time for me to rewatch those episodes.

          we know from "Space Seed" that there were sublight sleeper ships before the invention of warp drive.

          Like I said, it's been a while, but I could have sworn Spock said the DY-100 class of ships was meant for traveling within the Solar System, and that the cryogenic chambers were meant to keep humans alive for months, not centuries. I always f

      • by dwye (1127395)

        As per the Star Fleet Technical Manual era books, the Terrans reached Alpha Centuri via a 50 year trip on a sleeper ship, and discovered that the Preservers had made a colony of North Africans (Carthaginians by culture), and Western Med Greek coloni and Celts. Zephram Cochrane was a local mathematician that postulated a space warp without the technology to build it, which the Terrans had. Construction of the return ship was so fast that it preceded the report that they were going to build one and return t

  • by Dereck1701 (1922824) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @07:27PM (#43577225)

    "the International Astronomical Union issued a press release stressing its authority as the sole arbiter of the exoplanet-naming process"

    While this of course is at best a PR/Fundraising scheme, and at worst a scam, I don't particularly have much respect for the IAU either. Some of their past decisions are less about science, and more about politics. They CONSIDER themselves the "official" naming organization but in the annals of history I don't think their decisions are going to mean a hole lot.

  • I can live with the name, but I thought "Caleo" was a nie choice as well. "Caleo" is "flame" in latin.
  • While it's cute that Uwingu let this guy believe he named a planet for his dead grandpa, it's not cool that they seem to be presenting it as an official, authoritative name.

    Uwingu chooses names, sure, but they are official only to Uwingu itself and optionally, some of their users.

    Until and unless the IAU gives some authority to Uwingu, they have none. IAU says it's still AlphaCent-Bb.

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      Until and unless the IAU gives some authority to Uwingu, they have none. IAU says it's still AlphaCent-Bb.

      Lark remarks that the name comes from the Latin name of his late grandfather, stating

      And with an etymological justification like that ... it's going to remain Alpha Centauri-Bb for quite a while yet.

      All very fine and good for the guy to attempt to remember his grandfather, but to name a whole planet for him? Hubris! If he'd restrained his etymology to "bright", then he'd have had a much better chance o

  • The local race in that area (Alpha Century) is not going to be happy about it once they find out, in about 75 years time or so.

  • As long as you can't set foot and have a permanent presence on the moon/exoplanet, it is just fun. Unless people pay money then it is a scam.
  • Who thought that one up?

  • What gives this particular company any legitimate right to name planets? I say that the first one to land on it should get naming rights. That'll show whether they're serious about sponsoring space exploration, or are just ripping off feeble-minded individuals who think they also own a piece of the Moon and a star named after their cat.

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