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IAU Says People Can't Buy Rights to Name a Planet

Apr 15, 2013 04:01 AM EDT

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has warmed the public against sham sites that are offering people the rights to nominate a planet.

There are many planets outside our solar system that are being discovered with the help of latest detection methods. About 800 of these exoplanets are given names that may not sound too interesting such as 6 Cygni Bb or HD 41004 Ab.

site recently offered a deal that lets people suggest names for these new exoplanets for  just $4.99 per nomination proposal and for 99 cents, people can vote for nominated names.

"Recently, an organisation has invited the public to purchase both nomination proposals for exoplanets, and rights to vote for the suggested names. In return, the purchaser receives a certificate commemorating the validity and credibility of the nomination. Such certificates are misleading, as these campaigns have no bearing on the official naming process - they will not lead to an officially-recognised exoplanet name, despite the price paid or the number of votes accrued," said IAU in a statement to the press.

The site has invited names for its "baby book of names" for the new planets and has suggestions like "No More Taxes", "Pale Blue Dot" and "Black Dot". Currently, the top-voted name is Rakhat (a planet from the 1996 novel The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell).

The IAU has said that it doesn't support any "commercial practice of selling names of planets, stars or  even "real estate" on other planets or moons. These practices will not be recognised by the IAU and their alternative naming schemes cannot be adopted."

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