News National Always wanted to name a planet? Now’s your chance

Always wanted to name a planet? Now’s your chance

Name planet star
A star out there could have your name on it – literally. Photo: Getty
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Australians have the chance to make a lasting imprint on the universe, with news we can put forward names for a so-far-anonymous planet and its star.

It’s part of 100-year celebrations by the International Astronomical Union, which has the usual job of naming intergalactic discoveries.

But seeing as it’s getting on in years, it’s taking some time off and passing the baton to a host of different countries.

Australia’s planet is currently named HD 38283 b (we’ll call it HD38 for short) and it orbits star HD 38283.

Australia, this is our planet: HD 38283 b. Photo: NASA

The star is in the Milky Way, just a short 125 light years away, and we can see the yellow-white dwarf with the help of binoculars.

HD38 was discovered by Australian astronomer Chris Tinney, from a telescope at Siding Spring in New South Wales in 2010.

Our star was chosen because it is easily visible from the southern hemisphere, and because the planet that orbits it was discovered using the Anglo-Australian Telescope.

Australians are invited to put forward their suggestions online, and the International Astronomical Union will open the competition soon.

In September, it will release a shortlist to be voted on.

Before we let loose with classic Aussie names like Keith or Boomer, there are some parameters.

There are actually rules for what planets and stars can be named, but there’s also a theme to the competition, to stick with the 100th celebrations.

Australia’s theme is ‘meeting place’, and the goal is to create a name that reflects our country’s identity as a multicultural melting pot.

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