03 October 2005

Nickname, people, NICKNAME!

You may or may not have heard of 2003 UB313.  It is a trans-Neptunian object, approximately twice the size of Pluto, but three times as far away from the Sun.  Recently, it was discovered to have an orbiting body, as well.  Now, I could comment on what constitutes a planet and a moon, as both these things will now be debated much more hotly.  However, I will leave that for some other time.  What I would like to note is that there is a formal procedure for naming objects in the Solar system, and, frankly, the media happily reporting the whimsical nicknames the research teams gave to these objects is annoying.  Yes, so our intrepid physics geeks had a thing for attractive chicks in bustiers.  That does not mean that the names “Xena” and “Gabrielle” will be the final names of these objects.  Geez, anything to try and make astronomy interesting.        

Oh, and BTW, Xena is not the name that was submitted for its formal name, either.  *sigh*

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