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International Astronomical Union

  1. The IAU Isn’t Pleased With Uwingu’s Exoplanet Contest

    As you might recall, Uwingu is holding a contest to name an exoplanet. People love naming stuff in space, but it has rarely been in the hands of the people to decide. It's typically left to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to assign designations. It's pretty much their job. They're not too keen on Uwingu taking money from folks in order to give a name to an exoplanet that won't be officially recognized as such, and they've said as much in a recent statement.

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  2. If You’d Like to Name an Exoplanet, Now’s Your Chance

    We're living in a time when geeks are milling about the foreground of society, unchaperoned -- where we get to exert our fanaticism in various directions. For example, it used to be that newly discovered astronomical bodies were given dry or alphanumeric names, but not anymore! Recently, non-scientist dorks are allowed -- if unofficially -- to name far-flung celestial objects. Just ask Pluto. Today, Uwingu is sending out a call out to name the most recently discovered exoplanet, and you can pay to enter the contest.

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  3. William Shatner Leads the Charge to Name Pluto’s Moons

    We should have known! When SETI announced that the public could vote to name the fourth and fifth moons of Pluto, they also allowed voters to suggest their own. Given the demographic of astronomy and sci-fi fans, this new twist in the space-time continuum should have been inevitable: William Shatner rallied Star Trek fans to vote for the added name of Vulcan -- and now it's winning! Read on to learn about the other contenders.

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  4. SETI Asks the Internet to Name Pluto’s Smallest Moons, Is Probably Already Inundated With Meme-Related Write-Ins

    It Came From Outer Space

    …But the names have to be related to Greek mythology, specifically to Hades (or, as the Romans knew him, Pluto) and the underworld. And no, the fact that listening to NyanCat for too long makes one want to die doesn't count.

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  5. Astronomic Unit Simplified So Astronomy Won’t Be So Confusing For Freshmen

    The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has voted to officially change the Astronomical Unit (AU) -- a measure of the distance from the Earth to the Sun -- from a variable value to a more convenient constant. Because if you're the IAU and you have a meeting without voting on anything, it looks kind of bad, we guess? Kidding! It's because the IAU is made up largely of people who teach astronomy for a living, and people who teach astronomy for a living are, as a whole, just sick to death of teaching a new legion of bong-addled freshmen a mostly obsolete equation that most of them will never use outside of scribbling it on their hand to pass their astronomy final.

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  6. More Dwarf Planets Found In Kuiper Belt, Pluto In Good Company But Still Not A Planet

    The Kuiper Belt, an area in space beyond Neptune, characterized by asteroids, ice and rock is also home to several dwarf planets. Haumea, Makemake, and our dearly demoted Pluto all reside in the Kuiper Belt. Outside the Kuiper Belt, there are only two other known dwarf planets Ceres and Eris. Now, researchers believe they have found three more dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt. Using the Warsaw Telescope at Chile's Las Campanas Observatory, researchers found 14 possible objects in space that could be interesting for further study. Of those objects, 11 turned out to just be oversized chunks of debris, but three of them are big enough to meet the definition of a dwarf planet.

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