How Planets Are Named

The Planetary Society has a brief article by a member of the IAU Nomenclature Committee about the naming process for planets, planetary features and so on.

For example:

We maintain a database of potential names for planetary features, which must all fit within a theme for that body. For example, eruptive centers on Io are named after mythological deities that are related to fire, Sun, or thunder (Loki, for example, is a Norse blacksmith as well as the trickster god).

It’s a good read, check it out.

One Response to “How Planets Are Named”

  1. I think the naming should be left up to discoverers, who in turn should be able to sell the naming rights. That way astronomers will be able to strike it rich and we’ll get a lot of funny new astronomical names. You know – it’s like in the good old times of the space race. Be the first to send the probe to the far side of the Moon – get to name everything. IAU got its panties in a bunch about that too, but tough cookies. The far side of the Moon is Communist to the extreme, comrade.