Orbitar, really? Some new exoplanet names are downright weird

Infographic of winning names for nearly four dozen stars and exoplants. (credit: IAU)

Everyone who lived through the demotion of Pluto as a planet knows that the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is the final arbiter when it comes to designating all things astronomical, including official names for celestial bodies. And now the IAU has turned its international eyes on exoplanets for the first time, with public input, to name 14 stars and 31 exoplanets orbiting them.

Members of the public from the United States ended up suggesting the winning name for one star (42 Draconis) and two planets (42 Draconis b, Fomalhaut b). The names chosen were Fafnir for the star, and Orbitar and Dagon for the planets. Fafnir is named for a Norse mythological dwarf who turned into a dragon. Orbitar is a "contrived word paying homage to the space launch and orbital operations of NASA." Dagon was a Semitic diety, half-man, half-fish.

Color us unimpressed with those names.

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