Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (astronomical objects)

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I'm sure this has been asked, but where can I find out when the namings of 2005 FY9 & 2003 EL61 (discovered on the same day as Eris) be?


There seems to be some inconsistency with Alpheratz directing to Alpha Andromedae but Alpha Geminorum redirecting to Castor (star).

I suggest that where stars have common names like Castor, Alpheratz, Acrux, the article should be under that name and the reference name (Alpha Geminorum etc) should be a redirect. AndrewRT - Talk 23:55, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Looking at a few Messier names, it appears we prefer common names to catalog designations when they exist. I suggest using a proper name if it is approved by the IAU and Bayer designation otherwise (or a more obscure designation if no Bayer designation exists). See also Astronomical naming conventions.--Todd 00:36, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
For both stars and galaxies, I believe we should use the most commonly used name. For example, we shouldn't move Alpha Centauri to Rigel Kentaurus because the first name has 1.9 million Google hits, whereas the second name has only 15,000. Alpheratz is more common than Alpha Andromedae (191,000 hits compared to 707), so I agree with moving it. I think we should employ a similar rule for galaxies. Keep Andromeda Galaxy rather than moving it to Messier 31 (1.6 million hits for Andromeda Galaxy versus 466,000 hits for M31 galaxy), but move Triangulum Galaxy to Messier 33 (217,000 hits for M33 galaxy versus 88,000 hits for Triangulum Galaxy). --Fournax 01:02, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
I argee with the system suggested by Fournax, whereby the star is placed under its most common name. The brightest stars would generally be given their Greek or Arabic names, and the fainter stars would be given Bayesian names. For stars that are not named in the Bayesian system, I suggest using the HD number.George J. Bendo 08:15, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree with the idea of using the HD number where available. That seems to have become almost a convention in recent AJ and ApJ papers. By trial and error I've found that google searches on a star (that doesn't have a common name or Bayer designation) is most likely to succeed in finding useful results when the HD name is used. HR numbers have a particular problem in that they often match pieces of legislation. Gl/GJ/BD/CD identifiers usually seem to be more useful with older materials. — RJH (talk) 14:25, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks everyone for their contributions. I'd like to propose:

The golden rule is that the most commonly used name is used. In general:

  1. Traditional name where approved by IAU and this is more widely used than the Bayer name
  2. Bayer designation
  3. Flamsteed designation
  4. Henry Draper Catalogue
  5. If no HD number that alternative name

-AndrewRT - Talk 19:31, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

A few clarifications: we should probably specify Greek letter Bayer designations, since the Roman-letter ones are rarely used, and lower-case Roman-letter Bayer designations cause problems anyway (especially where there exists an upper-case Roman-letter designation for the same letter!). In addition, we should probably specify "most commonly used name" after Flamsteed (note that in the scientific literature, the most commonly used name is the HD name even for many stars with Bayer or Flamsteed designations). Remember variable stars! Chaos syndrome 21:36, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

All Bayer letter are lower-case Greek letters. The Roman upper and lower-case letters were added later by several authors. There should be no confusion with official naming conventions--e.g., variable stars start with the capital R. This was done deliberately because none of the constellations went as far as R in their assignments. These Roman letters, I think, should be used before HD numbers since they were assigned before that catalogue,i.e., many years ago. Tradition, mind you, and just about every substantial atlas uses them.Mytg8 17:31, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
Mytg8 is right, even if his name is incomprehensible. Many stars are well-known by Bayer designations that include Roman letters. RR Lyrae is the best example, but many more exist. George J. Bendo 09:49, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
RR Lyrae is a variable star designation, not a Roman letter Bayer designation. I'm also not going to go and quibble whether the Roman letter designations are or are not Bayer designations, but since some authors seem to refer to them as Bayer designations, I think clarification is needed. The problems come when you get stars like q1 Eridani, which would be rendered in the article title as Q1 Eridani, which is incorrect. In general, the Roman letter designations are obscure, so I think they should be avoided. Variable star designations are another matter. Chaos syndrome 21:08, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
RR Lyrae is the name of a star which is the achetype for the RR Lyrae variable stars. As you can see, Wikipedia contains entries on both the star and the class of stars. RR Lyrae is not the only such example; see U Geminorum for example (although it is also the archetype for a class of variable stars). I can find more given time. These are stars that will first be searched for by the designations that I gave above. The naming policy should take that into account. However, I do understand the problem that you have mentioned with the q1 Eridani. Perhaps the naming conventions can be adjusted for both situations? George J. Bendo 21:22, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
I'll throw in some more problematic cases: HD 209458 vs V376 Pegasi. By the logic we're developing here, the article should be at the latter. However, the HD designation is overwhelmingly more common. In addition, consider 55 Cancri vs Rho1 Cancri. The Flamsteed designation is far more common than the Bayer designation in this case! Chaos syndrome 17:19, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
Let's see(dusting off naming convention notes). Bayer letters are Greek from his "Uranometria" of 1603. Later other astronomers assigned Roman letters especially in southern constellations that Bayer and Lalande left bare(a,b...,A,B... no j's). So I suppose you could call both--Greek and Roman--Bayer letters. Later variable star namers noticed that no constellation went as far as R and used this fact to start naming variables(R,S,T...Z, then RR,RS...ZZ; then AA,AB...QZ for a total of 334 names). When they ran out of these, they started with V335, V336,etc. So you would know that P Cygni or p Eridani was a letter designation, and e.g., S Doradus was a variable; or V376 Pegasi or RR Lyr or V4021 Sgr. All these variable names are official and are tallied by B.V. Kukarkin of Moscow and his "General Catalogue of Variable Stars" and supplements. IMO variable names should be used(if assigned) after Bayer letters but before HD; no dis to Henry Draper, who bankrolled that survey back in the early 20th century. :-) Mytg8 13:11, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
Do you have a reference for this information? I am unfamiliar with this convention (although I can believe that it exists). Maybe it should be included somewhere in Wikipedia (with references). George J. Bendo 13:16, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
A quick google- Since this is apparently sanctioned by the IAU, I would think it's preferred; say in the case above--HD 209458 is a number in a catalog, V376 Pegasi is an official designation in the eyes of the IAU. Again, my opinion, I think that stars named after someone should be limited in use, especially since it could be argued that the feebliest brown dwarf is greater than all of us.  :-) Mytg8 15:30, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
Also HO Librae versus Gliese 581, IL Aquarii versus Gliese 876 (to continue my theme of taking exoplanet host stars). We have another two situations in which the variable star designation is hardly ever used, versus the catalogue number. Hell, even the news articles used the Gliese number. IMHO variable star designations should only be used if well-known. Chaos syndrome 13:28, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
Further point here: the IAU involvement in the variable star designations is because the system is still being updated as further variable stars are discovered. The HD catalogue etc are not being further updated, so do not need direct IAU involvement: this is not taken to mean the IAU is saying that the variable star designation should be used. This situation contrasts with solar system objects, where there is only one designation. Chaos syndrome 14:50, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Yes, no doubt that a lot of astronomers use Gliese's(updated continually) CNS catalogs; the late Dr. Gliese being one himself and it being on file at SIMBAD. Especially for dim and nearby stars. Here's an alternative pecking order-

  1. Traditional names
  2. Bayer letters
  3. Flamsteed numbers
  4. Harvard Revised catalog Commonly known as HR xxxx. Well known with data on the 9 000 plus brightest stars. The HD and HDE catalogs, when they are used, are for the dimmer and therefore probably lesser known stars.
  5. Gliese Catalogue of Nearby Stars Popular with stellar astronomers.

Mytg8 16:14, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

I disagree that we should be specifying preferential order of catalogues. Once we get to the catalogue number stage, we should be using most common reference, be it HD, HR, Gliese or whatever. Chaos syndrome 19:13, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
Interesting to see 58 Cancri redirects to Rho-2 Cancri whereas Rho1 Cancri redirects to 55 Cancri! The question is do we have a system that says the most common form always takes precedence or do we say Bayer always takes precedence over Flamsteed? AndrewRT - Talk 18:28, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

In general, I'd put proper name, Greek letter Bayer designation and Flamsteed designation on the same level of the pecking order (i.e. choose the most commonly used out of each one). If none of those exist, go for most commonly used designation (e.g. variable star designation, HD number). Chaos syndrome 18:41, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

In the galaxies naming conventions section, I wrote in what I now think of as the "Arp 220" rule (specifically designed for Arp 220). According to this rule, any exotic catalog designation that is in very common use for a specific object is more desirable than the more orthodox IC or UGC designations. Maybe something similar is needed for stars (although it is much harder to write for stars). George J. Bendo 19:18, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

How about this:

  1. Traditional name if commonly used. I'll propose as a diagnostic that a name is "commonly used" if it is defined in SIMBAD.
  2. Most commonly used out of Greek-letter Bayer designation or Flamsteed designation. This can be ascertained by searching (e.g. Google, ADS, arXiv)
  3. Most commonly used designation. This can be ascertained by searching.

This gets around the problem that a simple "most commonly used" would end up giving us lots of HD numbers, but gets around the issue of ending up with obscure catalogue or variable star designations which would result from prescribing a preferred order of catalogues. Chaos syndrome 21:52, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

I guess you can sum up the options like this: At one extreme, all designation systems are treated as equal and you simply use the most common name whichever designation it's from; at the other end you have a strict heirarchy and you always use (for instance) Bayer in preference to Flamsteed where the object has a Bayer name. The advantage of the second approach is that articles are then in a predictable place and this convention is useful way of preventing lots of pointless disputes about article names (like the one currently at 136199 Eris). I would like to propose a middle way - a presumed preference (perhaps Common Name then Bayer then Flamsteed then HD/HR/Gliese/Other) which can be overriden where a star is clearly more commonly known by a difference name. The same principle can be adopted throughout for other types of astronomical object AndrewRT - Talk 21:54, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
With the use of Bayer designations we have a problem with lowercase latin characters... 00:52, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

Discussion at Eris[edit]

(See also the discussion at Talk:136199_Eris#Requested_move)

Solar System bodies[edit]

Just to get the ball rolling I'll offer a suggestion for sub-stellar bodies (planets, dwarf planets, and SSSB's).

  1. Common name if widely used and not subject to significant disambiguation problems
  2. Official name (subject to subscript issues with preliminary minor-planet designations)
  3. parenthetically disambiguated name if official name is uncertain, unclear, or unusable

Under this system the major planets will be at juat plain Mars e.g. since they are considered more prominent than the Roman gods and other uses of the name, but dwarf planets and SSSB's will generally be at their official name, either preliminary as 2004 VD17 or final with minor planet number such as 1 Ceres since that provides convient disambiguation from the namesake and the first sentence makes clear that we are dealing with the astronomical object. See Wikipedia:Disambiguation#Specific topic number 1 for the rational for using a more complete name rather than parentheses to disambiguate. Eluchil404 21:47, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

Referencing external sources[edit]

Can we write recommendations suggesting that users can look at SIMBAD or the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database for accepted astronomical names? George J. Bendo 22:32, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

I don't see why not, although we shouldn't let other people's naming decisions predetermine the names we use. AndrewRT - Talk 19:07, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
I see that I failed to explain the context of my statement. The current draft says to use the "traditional name where approved by International Astronomical Union" for various objects. I am unaware of how to obtain this informaton from the IAU website itself (although I would be grateful if someone could inform me how to do so). The NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) and SIMBAD are both the best professional references for checking accepted object designations. I think the IAU even archives some of its official designations for things such as constellations with the same organization that operates the SIMBAD website. This is why I suggest referring to NED and SIMBAD. Does this make sense now? George J. Bendo 21:33, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks or clarifying and good point. The only to be careful about is that even if a common name exists, this policy (in its current form) says we should only use it if it is more commonly used that the Bayer designation. For instance Rigel Kentaurus should still be at Alpha Centauri as this is the most common form. AndrewRT - Talk 18:33, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
I've changes the project page - is this what you had in mind? I'm not familiar with the sources and wondered if they needed a bit more explanation? AndrewRT - Talk 18:38, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
I would recommend that NED and SIMBAD be generally used to check the possible traditional and catalog names for for anything outside the solar system (instead of simply stars). I will write something to that effect in the "General guidelines" section.

Numbers and names[edit]

I think there's a general principle that we should agree that applies to stars, comets, asteroids etc. In many cases they are given both numbers and names e..g. 4 Vesta and 136199 Eris.

The Wikipedia:Naming conventions policy states:

article naming should give priority to what the majority of English speakers would most easily recognize, with a reasonable minimum of ambiguity

A google search for Asteroid 4 Vesta [1] is instructive: Ignoring the wikipedia entry the search gives references to both 4 Vesta and Vesta but more to 4 Vesta. Searching for Vesta on its own shows the same in reverse - both coming up but Vesta more frequently.

On the other hand the top 20 search results for Eris only showed one result that included the name (of the results that related to the dwarf planet. I imagine this is connected to the recent publicity which means that many non-astronomers are using the name rather than professionals. This comes back to the WP:NAME policy, whcih also says:

Names of Wikipedia articles should be optimized for ... a general audience over specialists

The other issue is that most astronomical objects are named after other things, e.g. mythical gods. Hence Vesta, Eris, Pluto and Mercury also have other non-astronomical meanings.

4 Vesta is a less ambiguous name that Vesta because it clearly relates to the asteroid. An alternative is to have Vesta (Asteroid) which is the format the German wikipedia uses [2]

My preference would be to copy the German style for all astronomical objects. I dont think that numbers are often used by non-specialists. AndrewRT - Talk 20:00, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

I think the issue comes down to one of how we disambiguate. Given that most asteroids are named after mythological characters who are equally obscure, it comes down to disambiguating the name. From Wikipedia:Disambiguation, "# When there is another word (such as Cheque instead of Check) or more complete name that is equally clear (such as Titan rocket), that should be used." Since the number exists and functions as disambiguation, we should probably use that before resorting to parentheses. Chaos syndrome 21:12, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
Objects such as 4 Vesta are going to require disambiguation links on the Vesta page regardless of the name used (as is the case for this example). As a non-planetary scientist, I would look up this object on Wikipedia using the name "Vesta" (especially since I cannot remember its number). As to the names of these objects themselves, I am unclear as to which path to take. About half of the scientific articles on the ADS Abstract Service list this object being referred to as "Vesta", with the other half calling it "4 Vesta". Amateur astronomers and the general public probably refer to this as "Vesta". I would prefer using "Vesta (asteroid)", but I would give little resistance if people disagree with me. An option would be to create a redirect from "Vesta (asteroid)" to "4 Vesta".George J. Bendo 21:45, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
A point to bear in mind here is that several objects are currently under consideration for dwarf planet status. And once that happens we have to move the articles and fix the redirects if we have (centaur), (kuiper belt object), (cubewano), (asteroid) at the end. In addition, going to the brackets at the end form is going to raise merry hell when you consider the number of conflicting and overlapping terms for trans-Neptunian objects! Chaos syndrome 18:49, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
Another poster pointed out that there are 2 asteroids called Romulus, so Romulus (asteroid) is ambiguous. Similarly the last point, objects in the Kuiper Belt are generally not called asteroids - so name (asteroid) is not correct. name (astronomy) is possible - but there are two objects called Europa - so Europa (astronomy) is ambiguous. So to go with this proposal over mpc numbers raises multiple parenthesised suffixes for objects, and if we go for consistency and use the same suffix - it raises the possibility of ambiguity. Using the minor planet numbers removes any ambiguity, and disambiguates these minor planets from other objects which share the same or similar names - and we can be consistent with all numbered minor planets. Richard B 20:27, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Galaxy group/cluster names[edit]

(This is also posted at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Astronomical objects.)

I just wanted to ask about naming groups and clusters of galaxies. The current convention seems to have been developed by HurricaneDevon, who seems to have used the convention applied by Astronomy & Astrophysics (where the word "group" or "cluster" is not capitalized). Recently, I began converting articles to the Astrophysical Journal/Astronomical Journal convention (where "group" and "cluster" are capitalized). Today, I double checked the ADS Abstract Service and discovered that the two conventions exist.

This leads to an issue of what people's opinions are on naming groups and clusters of galaxies. My personal preference is to treat them like proper nouns and to capitalize "group" and "cluster". After all, all words are capitalized for other place names that are proper nouns (such as "City" in "New York City", "Lake" in "Lake Superior", and "Mountains" in "Rocky Mountains"). Does anyone else have any comments before I make further changes? George J. Bendo 21:50, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

Personally (as a non-astronomer who knows little of these things if I'm honest) I would prefer to capitalise as I would see "Cluster" as being part of the name. AndrewRT - Talk 18:31, 18 September 2006 (UTC)


If we use X/ P/ etc...

What about various articles we have on "Great Comet of xxx" (where xxx is a year)? It would look stupid to do X/Great Comet of 9999BC or what have you. 00:50, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

The symbol "/" is discouraged - but not prohibited from article names for technical reasons (it thinks it's a subpage)(see Wikipedia:Naming_conventions_(technical_restrictions)#Forward_slash) Is there any alternative naming convention we could use instead? AndrewRT - Talk 21:06, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

"For extremely famous comets which have no issues with disambiguation, these should be titled "Comet <name>", e.g. Comet Halley." - so how come the article on Comet Halley is titled "Halley's Comet"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:35, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

You can find an explanation at Talk:Halley's_Comet#Naming. --Enric Naval (talk) 22:20, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

Dwarf Planets[edit]

I just became aware of this proposed guideline. I would like to inform people that the issue of dwarf planet article naming was discussed as talk:Dwarf planet/Naming. The conclusion reached was that dwarf planets articles should have a title which is either be the name of the object or the name with a suffix of (dwarf planet) when disambiguation is needed. This standard is intended to supercede the minor planet naming standard for the dwarf planets. So Ceres should be Ceres (dwarf planet) under this decision, not 1 Ceres or (1) Ceres. I hope that the propsed standards here will be refined accordingly. --EMS | Talk 20:22, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

That talk page is long, and it contains a lot of contradictory discussion. Could you please indicate where in that talk page everyone reaches a consensus on naming dwarf planets? George J. Bendo 21:15, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
Also, that talk page archive contains about 4 polls (all in the last 3 weeks) over the subject which did not reach any consensus. I would also ask what EMS is hoping that we refine on this page - it currently says "{tbc}". Richard B 22:46, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
A 2:1 supermajority was reached favoring the "(dwarf planet)" suffix. Admitedly it is not a discussion consensus, but it is compelling evidence that the community will support the use of the suffix for Ceres (as is now happenning) and most likely for all future dwarf planets. If you want to see a discussion consensus, then all that I can say is "good luck", as there are too many strong opinions on this one. IMO the best thing to do is to take this decision and run with it. This is one of those times when what you decide isn't as important as that you decide. If this choice is bad, that will become obvious soon enough and the community will change course as a result. Otherwise, it will stick around and be built on. --EMS | Talk 04:07, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

I do not think that everyone has accepted the dwarf planet naming debate. I therefore doubt that whatever you write is official Wikipedia policy. Regardless, I think at this point that someone needs to contact an official body (the IAU, the Minor Planet Center, etc.) to get information on official naming conventions. George J. Bendo 08:41, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia doesn't HAVE to, and shouldn't in this case, use an organisation official naming conventions. In my eyes, the dwarf planet discussion is closed. We have been over and over and over this a million times, and most of the times, the consensus was **** (dwarf planet). Let's just move on and focus on something else. --Deenoe 10:08, 12 October 2006 (UTC)

Agreed! Please comment on my discussion below at the end of this page. Hopquick 17:23, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

Common vs. official names[edit]

The proposal currently seems written from the perspective of someone with the misconception that the "number name" construct is an official name. However, It is not a name, official or otherwise. "4 Vesta" is not the official name of the asteroid "Vesta". In fact, the vast majority of asteroids will have the same common name as official name.

What is being proposed is that asteroids should be given a special disambiguation system where the article titles will be "[MPC catalog number] [name]" in contrast to the most common Wikpedia disambiguation of "Name (category)". I don't think it's a good idea, though. Juno (asteroid) is better than 3 Juno. Already, the current practice of "number name" has lead many folks to believe that that is how asteriods are named, as evidenced at Talk:1_Ceres#Survey. When the policy is leading people to adopt misinformation, Wikipedia shouldn't be using it. People don't get as confused by the "Name (category)" titles. --Yath 23:48, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

I did not understand this comment. When I go to the ADS Abstracts Query Form and do a title search on "4 Vesta", I find a lot of scientific articles from journals such as Icarus and Astronomy & Astrophysics that identify this object as "4 Vesta" or "(4) Vesta". Do you mean to tell me that "4 Vesta" is not being used as a name by these scientific journals? George J. Bendo 08:22, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
4 Vesta is a scientific term, not a common-name. Scientific terms are used in scientific papers, I grant you that, but that does not make them the name. aLii 08:46, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
"4 Vesta" is not being used as a name by the scientific journals. This is a citation form. The official name is Vesta, and the number is the official designation in the Minor Planet Catalogue. --Cuddlyopedia 14:50, 12 October 2006.
Could you explain what a "citation form" is? I never have to use "citation forms" when I publish papers on galaxies. George J. Bendo 15:05, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
A 'citation form' is an agreed or specified format for the giving of citations. All Journals have these (usually in a 'note for contributors' or similar, though they may just refer to citation forms set by other bodies - such as the IAU), and when referring to a specific galaxy you presumably normally cite its entry in some catalogue or other, with the entry given in a specified format. The usual citation form for minor planets is '(designation) name'. --Cuddlyopedia 15:35, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
At this point, I have to speak as a professional astronomer who has published journal articles (see this one, for example). What Cuddlyopedia is talking about does not make sense. The designations for stars, nebulae, clusters, galaxies, etc. that include catalog numbers are properly referred to as names, designations, or (as SIMBAD calls them) identifiers, not "citation forms". The NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database even refers to catalog names as "names". (Try a search at SIMBAD or the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database on something like "NGC 5676".) In astronomical journals, the word "citation" is used to discuss references (usually other journal articles). A professional astronomer would be far more likely to think that a "citation form" is the format for writing a reference in a publication, not the name for an object.
I am still left with the impression that inclusion of a number in an asteroid's name (e.g. "4 Vesta") can be used as an object's official name. Yath's statements to the contrary do not make sense. aLii and Cuddlyopedia have simply used semantics to make it sound as though names like "4 Vesta" are not names (i.e. they call such names "scientific terms" or "citation forms").
I still suggest that someone email the Minor Planet Center, the Icarus publication office, or the Astronomy and Astrophysics publication office for information on the inclusion of numbers in asteroid names rather than guessing at the convention used in professional astronomy. George J. Bendo 16:23, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
Despite all of this, I am still willing to support the move to name asteroids in Wikipedia without using the number if that is going to make Wikipedia more user friendly. However, I think other people need to talk to planetary scientists or professional organizations to get valid information.
(I think this is all I can stomach of this discussion. I hate semantics arguments.) George J. Bendo 16:23, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
A 'citation form' can be a name or a designation, if the format of same is specified. The term 'citation form' is used outside astronomy. Try entering it in an Internet search engine, or consider this example from law: [3]. I don't know what the position is for 'stars, nebulae, clusters and galaxies', but for minor planets the IAU specifies differences between designations and names (see [4], [5] and [6]). At your suggestion, I have today emailed the IAU for clarification and confirmation (the MPC states it has no resources to answer such questions). But, I'm just a member of the public and am not hopeful of getting a response. --Cuddlyopedia 06:50, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
OK, I no longer think people are just full of hot air (to put it mildly). However, after looking at the law example, I think Cuddlyopedia is mistaken as to his understanding of citation forms in astronomy. The law example demonstrates that other documents, not physical objects, are referenced using citation forms. The equivalent in astronomy would be to reference a journal paper (e.g. "Bendo et al.(2006)" to reference my NGC 4594 paper). What is under discussion here are object names. Take "NGC 5005" as an example. While using "NGC" may reference the New Galactic Catalogue, the designation itself is efectively a name.
On the topic of asteroids, the question remains whether the number is part of the name or not. I am happy that Cuddlyopedia is doing this. George J. Bendo 12:15, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

My opinion in a nutshell[edit]

Astronomical Objects articles should be named with their MOST COMMON NAME. Period. It makes it way easier. Eris (dwarf planet), Ceres (dwarf planet). It's plenty enough. --Deenoe 01:45, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Ceres is NEVER refererenced as "Ceres (dwarf planet)" - but is often called "1 Ceres". Since Ceres is not available - because of disambiguation issues - we should therefore go with the most common - i.e. 1 Ceres Richard B 08:34, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
What you seem to misunderstand is that Ceres (dwarf planet) indicates that the name is Ceres and that it is a dwarf planet. It does not mean that the name is "Ceres (dwarf planet)". Therefore your logic fails, because "Ceres" is more common than "1 Ceres", and the general way to disambiguate anything on Wikipedia is by the use of a descriptive noun in parentheses. aLii 08:58, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
Personally, I've briefly learned about Ceres in school. My teacher never reference to Ceres as "1 Ceres". Moving to Ceres (dwarf planet) implicates, as said, it's called Ceres, and it's a dwarf planet. A bit like Alexisonfire (Album). THAT'S the way to disambiguate, not adding a what I qualify as a "irrelevant-to-most" number. --Deenoe 10:05, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

MPC numbers and parentheses[edit]

As discussed on Talk:Minor planet number, the official form of the MPC number seems to include the parentheses, with the no parentheses form an accepted shorter form. Should the Wikipedia not use the full and official form instead of the shorthand? This would also prevent people from mistakenly thinking Vesta is named 4 Vesta. -- Jordi· 07:44, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

At this point, I do not trust the consensus of people on Wikipedia. Someone should contact the Minor Planet Center and ask them for information on naming conventions (and also invite them to work on Wikipedia) rather than guessing about the official naming convention. George J. Bendo 08:37, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
Consensus? The discussion I refer to (and the only one on the page) is about IAU/MPC use, not Wikipedia policy. Are you confusing this with the minor planet naming vote perhaps? -- Jordi· 12:26, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Specifically I fail to see why in §2.2 #1 and #2 are not consistent. Why would we use parentheses for minor planets with only a provisional designation, and drop the parentheses when this body receives an official name? The MPC catalogue number remains the same and should be treated the same. And then preferably with parentheses, since that is the format the MPC itself uses on official lists and in most press releases. -- Jordi· 12:30, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

I was a little confused when I wrote the above comment. After looking at the Minor planet number talk page, however, I still stand by my basic conclusion: I would not trust the average Wikipedia user to determine the proper convention without outside help. I still encourage people to go talk to the Minor Planet Center or the IAU itself rather than trying to guess what their policy is. It may also be worth contacting the editorial offices of Astronomy and Astrophysics or Icarus and asking them what their policy is regarding minor planet names. George J. Bendo 12:38, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
Seconded, an official word is needed here. My comment on the inconsistency of §2.2 #1 and #2 stands no matter what is found to be the "proper format" though. Are there any Wikipedian astronomers? Or a Wikiproject which could help here? -- Jordi· 12:43, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
Just for your information, I am a professional extragalactic astronomer. I am much more useful in discussions on galaxies than asteroids. I have also made a comment on the Wikipedia: WikiProject Astronomical objects page. Maybe someone there who knows asteroids better than I do can comment. George J. Bendo 12:51, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
For information, the current naming conventions listed here, were, at the time that section was written, the current way that they were named on Wikipedia article names - the articles were not named following the naming convention - actually the other way round - the naming convention was written following the article names then (and still) being used. The inconsistency arises as it was deemed too cluttered to include the parentheses for named ones - but the parentheses were included for ones with only provisional designations - to separate the MPC number and the discovery year more clearly. Note also that ones with only provisional designations are extremely unlikely to appear in anything other than scientific literature (and wikipedia) - so we'd probably need to closely follow the method used in most scientific journals for the most common name. Richard B 17:18, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Asteroids: Name (asteroid)[edit]

How about if we use "Name (asteroid)" (when necessary) instead of the MPC catalog numbers, and use a policy like this:

  1. For bodies which have received official naming from the Minor Planet Center, the article title should be the object's name. If it conflicts with another article title, it may be followed by the word "asteroid" in parentheses, e.g. Vesta (asteroid).

Yath 08:43, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

I strongly prefer this to the current system suggested on the main page, which is basically suggesting that the various minor planets should have a convention of 4 different conventions! (When the current dwarf planet majority vote is taken into account) The listed example of (15760) 1992 QB1 for me says why no article should have the MPC number in its title — how many numbers do we want/need? It would be nice if we could have MPC redirects to each page, for example MPC: 1 would redirect to Ceres, MPC: 4 to Vesta, etc. Whether this is allowed by Wikipedia policy I'm unsure. aLii 08:53, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
I wasn't suggesting the above to replace all three of the guidelines currently under "asteroids", just the first item. After all, asteroids without names have to go somewhere. But the MPC redirects seem like a good idea. --Yath 09:03, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
Extremely poor example, then. Vesta's had official recognition for years. How about (15760) 1992 QB1 and 1992 QB1 as examples? Are you arware of Minor planet number? It's an attempt I made to give a primer explaining what the numbers mean. Vanished user talk 14:48, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
Sure, Minor planet number states that "4 Vesta" is a "designation", and it makes it clear that "Vesta" is the asteroid's name. So the practice of article titles being "Name" or "Name (disambiguation)" leads to a title of "Vesta (asteroid)". And the examples of (15760) 1992 QB1 and 1992 QB1 are covered by the remaining rules on this project page. --Yath 18:06, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
Looking only from the pragmatic aspect, I think it's a bad idea to propose new rules that force 100,000 articles to be re-written and moved. You can't change the opening sentences by bot. And if an official disambiguation, the minor planet number, exists, we should use it. If only to save our sanity!Vanished user talk 07:57, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
In short, any guideline that would be impossible to implement cannot be a guideline, I fear. Vanished user talk 08:18, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
There are only a few thousand artlces on individual minor planets. Most of these objects are only listed under list of asteroids. Furthermore, a bot can be built to automate the renaming of the asteroid articles and change their internal links in other articles. OTOH, I do agree that any standard that requires renaming a large number of articles should be carefully considered before it is agreed to. Also, do note that even if it is not optimal, the current scheme works.--EMS | Talk 17:53, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
Whilst scrolling down to here, I noticed this was discssed a bit higher up:
Another poster pointed out that there are 2 asteroids called Romulus, so Romulus (asteroid) is ambiguous. Similarly the last point, objects in the Kuiper Belt are generally not called asteroids - so name (asteroid) is not correct. name (astronomy) is possible - but there are two objects called Europa - so Europa (astronomy) is ambiguous. So to go with this proposal over mpc numbers raises multiple parenthesised suffixes for objects, and if we go for consistency and use the same suffix - it raises the possibility of ambiguity. Using the minor planet numbers removes any ambiguity, and disambiguates these minor planets from other objects which share the same or similar names - and we can be consistent with all numbered minor planets. Richard B 20:27, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
I think the Romulus problem is... probably the death nail in this idea. I don't see any good way around it that allows consistancy in all asteroids without using MPC numbers. Vanished user talk 18:36, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
See Romulus. One of these "asteroids" is in fact a moon of an asteroid (namely Sylvia). So an article on it would be called either Romulus (moon) of Romulus (asteroid moon). --EMS | Talk 18:58, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
Firstly, this proposal isn't based on some rabid aversion to MPC numbers. It's simply better to use "(asteroid)". Now if some object comes up and it turns out that using an MPC number is the best way to disambiguate, I'm all for it. Remember that what we propose here are guidelines, not laws, so creative solutions are not prevented by their existence.
Secondly, "consistency in all asteroid [article titles]" shouldn't be the primary goal - serving our audience should. Readers expect and deserve that article titles should unambiguously identify the name of the subject of the article. They aren't computers and don't benefit by the prominent placement of a catalog number (the infobox is the best place for that).
Thirdly, look how easily EMS overcame the failure of imagination in the Romulus dilemma above. "Romulus (asteroid moon)" - that death nail just popped right out of the coffin's lid! --Yath 19:24, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
Renaming all of the asteroid articles seems like an awful lot of work, for not an awful lot of gain. Given that the vast majority of these minor planets are only referred to in scientific literature - and on the MPC's website, we'd have to carefully look at what the most commonly used term to refer to them is. Richard B 20:05, 12 October 2006 (UTC)

I strongly oppose this: Don't make up disambiguations for disambiguations' sake. Since almost all the asteroids are almost only referenced in scientific literature, it makes sense to refer to them as they'd be referred to there. Vanished user talk 14:38, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

However, giving (15760) 1992 QB1 as 1992 QB1, in practice, seems to be what actually happens, and this might need updated. Vanished user talk 14:38, 11 October 2006 (UTC)


Should moons have their planet mentioned in their article title, e.g. Ganymede (moon of Jupiter) as opposed to Ganymede (moon)?

Using "(moon)" should be sufficient. The parenthetical clause should only be used for disambiguation. I do not think any two moons share the same name. Therefore, nothing more needs to be written to distinguish an object labeled with "(moon)". (The information about which planet the moon orbits should be in the body of the text.) George J. Bendo 13:40, 12 October 2006 (UTC)


Can we point to this article as definitive evidence of the necessity for a move, or should consensus on that page's talk supercede these conventions? (again, it has to do with little Ceres) Hopquick 16:09, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

This page is tracking the Ceres discussion, so not really. Vanished user talk 16:31, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
Ok. So you believe that whatever we discuss here will STILL have to be confirmed over on talk:1 Ceres? Ergo, we can ignore everything in this naming convention? Hopquick 17:26, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
No, I'm just saying the section on Dwqarf Planets only just changed from tbd to this, so we ought to wait on Ceres' vore. The vote has gone ahead, it's over now. Vanished user talk 18:41, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

Can a "planet" be extrasolar?[edit]

"2.5 Extra-solar planets (exoplanet)" Per the new IAU definition extra solar is not a class of planet. :( Hopquick 17:44, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

Um... Extrasolar just means around a different star than ours. What decision? Vanished user talk 18:40, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

The IAU's definition excludes planemos which are extrasolar in a literal reading. They intentionally used "the sun" instead of "a star" in the definition of a planet. Hopquick 20:05, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

The 2006 IAU defintion defined "planet" with respect to the solar system, and specifically declined to define "planet" outside of the solar system. That definition was drafted by the working group that is only responsible for things inside the Solar System. There is another, 2003 IAU definition, that was defined by the working group that is only responsible for extrasolar planets, which is what is used to define planets outside of the solar system. That definition states that a planet has to orbit a star, and be smaller than a brown dwarf. Free-floating/interstellar planets are referred to as sub-brown dwarfs in that definition. (It does not define a lower limit however). 05:44, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

If you combine the 2006 and 2003 definitions you get:

  1. A planet must orbit a star
  2. A planet must be large enough to be rounded by gravity
  3. A planet must be orbitally dominant
  4. A planet must be smaller than a brown dwarf
  5. A planet-like object that does not orbit a star, or in a star system is a "sub-brown dwarf"
  • Planemo is left undefined, and I don't remember reading that the planemo term has been accepted by the IAU. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 05:47, November 3, 2006 (UTC)

Policy on unnamed objects[edit]

While I don't necessarily support moving 4 Vesta to Vesta (asteroid) at this stage, I really don't like names such as (136108) 2003 EL61, (136472) 2005 FY9 etc - The common name, with which the vast majority of people will refer to these, is the year/letters/numbers scheme only, without MPC number. Also since there is no chance of other entities being called "2005 FY9", there's no reason to include the number for disambiguation purposes either.

As examples, within Wikipedia itself images such as this one and the {{Trans-Neptunian dwarf planets}} omit the MPC numbers, and most references I ever saw to Eris before its naming were to either "Xena" or to "2003 UB313", never to "(136199) 2003 UB313". Interested to know others' views on this. Cheers — SteveRwanda 18:49, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

Query: What's the average turnaround between notable minor planet getting a minor planet number and gaining an official name? If (as I believe is true for *notable* ones) it's only a few months, the question is probably academic anyway. Vanished user talk 18:58, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
The other question is whether this is actually being DONE: (136199) 2003 UB313 is a red link. Vanished user talk 19:00, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
That's probably due to previous inconsistency in the way it was named - Eris was at 2003 UB313 from the moment of the article's creation in July last year up until when it was renamed. Likewise 2003 EL61 was at 2003 EL61 until recently.
And re your other questions, it's clear that the turnaround period between discovery and naming can be several years - the two bodies I mention above, and indeed Eris itself, were all discovered between 2003 and 2004. A policy is certainly needed! SteveRwanda 19:08, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
With regards to the specific example of Eris, don't forget that it only received a numeric designation on September 13th, 2006, at the same time it was officially named. (Nevertheless, a redirect may be worth considering.) --Ckatzchatspy 19:24, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
Right'n. I'm afraid my memory for timescales is poor. Now, I did, when poking around those pages, find one reason why (136108) 2003 EL61 might be needed: Moon designations follow somwhat arcane rules:
S/2005 (2003 EL61) 1 provisional designation; nicknamed "Rudolph" by the Caltech team), renamed S/2005 (136108) 1 once its primary was numbered.
As such, it's probably valid as it explains an otherwise inexplicable changing moon designation. As it only applies to a small number of bodies that are notable, and not forever, I'd keep the format for now. Vanished user talk 19:51, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
Google search for "S/2005 (136108) 1" gives exactly one non-Wikipedia result, some Polish site. Since the statement above has no citatoin, I think we have to take it with a pinch of salt. SteveRwanda 11:22, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
Look about 3/4 of the way down this page for the provisional designations of asteroid satellites. It's very similar to the way that planetary satellites are given provisional designations; the MPC number is used instead of the letter for planets; e.g. S/2003 J 2 is the 2nd satellite of Jupiter discovered in 2003. S/1993 (243) 1 is the 1st satellite of (243) Ida in 1993, and post naming it's now (243) Ida I (Dactyl), sometimes without the brackets round the name. The number for S/2005 (136108) 1 was only assigned about a month ago, so it's hardly surprising that it's not well written about yet.Richard B 14:35, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
Re the timescales between discovery, gaining a MPC number, and gaining a name; A minor planet gets its provisional designation once it is confirmed that it is a genuine new object. A minor planet number usually follows only once its orbit has been sufficiently well determined. This is usually over the course of at least 2 likely up to 4 or more oppositions (i.e. when the Sun is opposite the asteroid in the sky) - oppositions happen just slightly less frequently than once a year for Kuiper belt objects, about 14-15 months apart for main-belt asteroids. At that point, the discoverer is allowed to suggest names for it - subject to a maximum of 2 asteroids named per month. With modern all-sky searches, this means that the vast majority of asteroids will never receive a name, and will retain their provisional designation, but will have a mpc number once their orbit becomes sufficiently well determined. The majority of these will be unlikely to attract vast amounts of popular media attention - but may appear in scientific literature. This debate would not have affected Eris. The provisional designation of 2003 UB313 was given first, but the name and number were given together. One day it was in the catalogue under 2003 UB313, the next it was in the catalogue as (136199) Eris. Eris was never in the transitional period where it had no name, but an MPC number. Richard B 00:35, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

Section on "Phrasing"[edit]

The following was recently added to the guideline as a new section entitled "Phrasing":

"Editors should avoid the first person plural forms, 'we,' 'us' and 'our,' when describing the exploration of astronomical objects. Suffixes that, etymologically, ought to refer only to the Earth or human beings are often in widespread use and are acceptable. Specifically, the 'geo-' suffix may be used for off-Earth bodies (e.g. the geology of Mars or areology)."

"The Earth perspective is assumed and locative phrasing is not necessary where there is no ambiguity. While it is useful to observe that "Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to the Solar System" in the introduction to the subject, "Alpha Centauri is a close system" will suffice at other iterations. Use common sense and avoid cluttered language. As much as possible, editors should seek word choices that make such distinctions obvious: the Solar System refers to the Sun and bodies bound to it; a star system refers to any other such complex."

While some of this may be useful, other parts need discussion and revision before going "live". Thoughts? --Ckatzchatspy 23:20, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

None of them seem especially harmful, and a few would at least kill some useless discussions that pop up on article talk pages from time to time. It does get tiresome trying to enforce all the myriad of MoS rules though.—RJH (talk) 21:01, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

exoplanet naming[edit]

User:NuclearVacuum has made an exoplanet naming guideline proposal at Talk:Extrasolar planet/Naming, however, this guideline has been modified to make it appear that a consensus has been reached at that location, when it has not yet been established. (talk) 06:23, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

Diacritics in minor planet names[edit]

The lists of asteroids at the MPC does not include diacritics in the asteroid names, instead the name is rendered in ASCII. This usage seems to persist to the majority of other sources: to take for example the asteroid 4090 Říšehvězd, the MPC list uses the name Risehvezd, nor does NASA [7]. Similarly 2867 Šteins is usually referred to as Steins, e.g. in the Rosetta mission press releases [8]. NASA also doesn't use the diacritic [9]. Similarly the various IAU material on the dwarf planet moon Hi'iaka uses the apostrophe not the ʻokina [10]. Since it appears that the ASCII versions of the names are the most common, I propose that as a convention on Wikipedia, minor planet names should be written without diacritics in the ASCII form: i.e. Risehvezd not Říšehvězd, Hi'iaka not Hiʻiaka. Icalanise (talk) 19:43, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

I would suggest that we should use the official form of the minor planet name, as specified by the IAU. In particular, the official names of 2867 Šteins and 4090 Říšehvězd do have the diacritics (see [11].) See [12] for some statistics and [13] for a list with diacritics. Spacepotato (talk) 23:41, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
Per WP:COMMONNAME, we need to consider findability and familiarity. The majority of sources appear to use the non-diacritic forms of the names, and the non-diacritic forms are more likely to be searched for by English-speaking users, since the language does not typically contain diacritics. Icalanise (talk) 23:51, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
Findability isn't an issue as long as redirects are set up. Google ignores diacritics in articles if you don't include them in your search. We should be careful with diacritics, but there's no reason to avoid them. They don't hurt anyone. —Werson (talk) 00:19, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Technically the Wikipedia policy is to use the most common name, not the official name. That is why we have Dog instead of Canis lupus familiaris, and Krakatoa instead of Krakatau despite the latter being a more correct translation of the name into English and increasingly used by official bodies. In English usage, asteroid names are more commonly given without the diacritics, so according to Wikipedia policy that is what we should be using, regardless of whether the diacritic form is more official or whether we could get round the issue by redirects. This is exactly the same reason why it was decided not to disambiguate the dwarf planet names using their MPC numbers: despite this providing more information and in some sense being more official, the average user will not have encountered the prefix and so the article uses the non-prefixed name and the form with the MPC number becomes a redirect. Similarly, a user who has seen the ESA reports on the Rosetta mission will search for Steins not Šteins, because the latter form, despite being official, is not the one in common use. Icalanise (talk) 10:16, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Legalistically speaking, we have a general naming convention, WP:UCN, which can be overridden by subject-specific naming conventions, like this one. This is why we have an article at Prunus spinosa instead of at blackthorn. Practically speaking, deferring to the naming authority avoids time-consuming, fruitless arguments as to which name is the most commonly used by reliable sources. Spacepotato (talk) 19:03, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
For minor planets I often reference Schmadel (2003), Dictionary of minor planet names, which uses diacritics. Pg. 235, for example, has 2867 Šteins. Personally that seems acceptible, as long as a redirect is set up. But I can live with either page name.—RJH (talk) 02:23, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
The issue arises about what to do in the intervening time between the minor planet being named and the printed version being published - do the IAU circulars which give the name (the circulars are hidden behind a subscription requirement) include diacritics -- the publically-accessible lists of minor planets which are kept current do not include diacritics. Icalanise (talk) 10:36, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
I expect the usual fuss-bots (software or otherwise) will clean up the debris. It's the kind of thing I've learned not to fret over, in WP anyway. =)—RJH (talk) 20:57, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
The electronically available DVI, PostScript, and PDF versions of the circulars, together with the printed version, appear to all be visually identical. Spacepotato (talk) 21:56, 24 September 2008 (UTC)


I do not see much about redirects in the above extensive discussions. I am certain we want our names to be as convenient as possible for ordinary readers, yet also consistent with "correct' usage. The latter is likely to be the name officially adopted by the professional scholarly bodies most intimately involved, as these are the people that have to deal with the complications, exceptions, and ambiguities that actually arise day-by-day.

Unfortunately these two desiderata often conflict, and it seems to me that the natural and practical way to resolve the conflicts in Wikipedia is usually by a redirect. I think this is already done in many or most cases. But since I don't see it discussed above, I propose putting, in the asteroid section of the article, explicit encouragement to redirect a professional name to the common name when an article with the common name exists, and if an object already has an article under the primary professional designation, but also a conflicting common name, then to redirect the common name to the existing article (keeping its professional name unchanged). If the common name needs disambiguation (as will often be the case), then put the disambig wikilink to the professionally named article in the list of alternatives. Objects with multiple names (very common in astronomy) should never have redundant articles, but those articles should be merged when their meaning is identical, with the final article name coming out of consensus in the merge discussion, and redirects for any others.

The asteroid section as it stands as it stands now (Dec 4, 2009) seems basically pretty good to me. The MPC number is unique and permanent, common names are common for many objects, and the combination "nnnn Name" is very widely used by professionals where a name exists, and still unambiguous even when a name has not yet been assigned. (The provisional designations really apply to groups of observations, not objects, as it can happen that asteroids are lost and recovered later, sometimes after many years, so different designations can apply to the same object for a while; and it is even conceivable that different objects could mistakenly get the same provisional designation, though this may never actually happen.) Although I have mainly been looking at the asteroid discussion above, I think the basic principle applies much more widely to astronomy naming in Wikipedia. I just don't want to jump the gun by sweeping in all other classes without detailed consideration. I also am a professional astronomer, so I confess that bias. Wwheaton (talk) 00:09, 5 December 2009 (UTC)


A days ago Dicklyon introduced the example "Halley's comet" (not a proper name) replacing "Comet Halley" (a proper noun)[14]. Half an hour later he replaced another with a proper name with a non-proper name in other guideline[15]. Then, one minute later he opened a move request where he cited the guideline he had just changed[16]. He didn't say anywhere that he had been altering the guidelines before citing them. I have replaced his new example with the long-standing old example, that was also at WP:MOS#Celestial_bodies. --Enric Naval (talk) 20:17, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

RFC – WP title decision practice[edit]

Over the past several months there has been contentious debate over aspects of WP:Article Titles policy. That contentiousness has led to efforts to improve the overall effectiveness of the policy and associated processes. An RFC entitled: Wikipedia talk:Article titles/RFC-Article title decision practice has been initiated to assess the communities’ understanding of our title decision making policy. As a project that has created or influenced subject specific naming conventions, participants in this project are encouraged to review and participate in the RFC.--Mike Cline (talk) 17:57, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

IAU and Common Names for stars[edit]

Hi. The policy and various comments on this talk page refer to traditional common names that has been approved by International Astronomical Union (e.g. Wikipedia:Naming_conventions_(astronomical_objects)#Stars. My understanding is that the IAU has no such list of names, which is (in my opinion) half the problem when we decide how to refer to stars. Does anyone know anything more? Metebelis (talk) 22:23, 29 March 2012 (UTC)

See the links to common names at the end of Naming Astronomical Objects. These correspond to the proper names found on the List of proper names of stars. Regards, RJH (talk) 22:50, 31 March 2012 (UTC)
Unfortunately it's not an IAU-approved list, it's a collection of helpful links to other people's sites. So, no official list? Metebelis (talk) 12:15, 1 April 2012 (UTC)
Right. That IAU page only covers the nomenclature of stellar catalogues beginning with Bayer. The primary goal of the IAU seems to be to make sure that stars are unambiguously identified,[17][18] rather than maintaining the catalogues themselves. Lists of traditional/proper/common/historical names don't appear to be officially maintained by the IAU. Regards, RJH (talk) 14:42, 1 April 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for that, it's as I thought. So then, the comment in Wikipedia:Naming_conventions_(astronomical_objects)#Stars, "If the star has a traditional name that has been approved by International Astronomical Union", is incorrect and should be modified. I've be Bold and replace it with "If the star has a traditional name that is more widely used than any other name" (i.e. just remove the IAU clause). Metebelis (talk) 07:07, 3 April 2012 (UTC)


So by now in my project, I've dealt with the need to invoke NCASTRO for many, many stars, and I've noticed a few systematic problems. I've already emergency=added a clause for the variable star designation in the stars section, which was conspicuously absent from the guidelines before and was a glaring problem. I think it is necessary to add an explicit exception clause, since there are multiple times that it is necessary to deviate from NCASTRO to use the most common name, such as in the case of RT Aurigae. I therefore propose the addition of the following subsection to the "General Guidelines" section, as a level 3 subsection:

There are times in which the most common name used for an object does not follow the NCASTRO policy. In cases like this, such as with the star RT Aurigae, it is appropriate to name the article after the object's most commonly-used name, instead of following the letter of NCASTRO.

Thoughts? StringTheory11 (t • c) 16:27, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

sounds good - some of the names that are a long list of numbers and letters are virtually unusable. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 20:24, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Isn't this covered under WP:UCN and WP:POLICY ? Since NC-ASTRO is just a guideline and UCN is policy, by Wikipedia's own rules, policies overrule guidelines, so there being a common name that always comes first. At the very top of this guideline it is pointed out that the common name is used, which already covers this case. -- (talk) 07:48, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
    • Yes, theoretically it would be, but I think that it is better to explicitly mention this, as people have been known to follow policies to the letter before. StringTheory11 (t • c) 18:00, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Isn't this exception already covered right at the top by Wikipedia:Naming_conventions_(astronomical_objects)#Common_names? Why would we need to make it any more explicit than being the very first section of this guideline? Modest Genius talk 01:54, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
Btw, I was fully in support of adding variable star designations, which was indeed an unfortunate omission. Modest Genius talk 01:57, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

IAU Working Group on Star Names[edit]

The IAU organized the WGSN in 2016 which will catalog cultural and historical names for bright stars to help preserve astronomical world heritage, and maintain a catalog of IAU-approved unique proper names for stars. The WGSN's first bulletin set out its terms of reference and naming guidelines and a table of the first two batches of names approved by the WGSN (on 30 June and 20 July 2016) together with names of stars adopted by the IAU Executive Committee Working Group on Public Naming of Planets and Planetary Satellites during the 2015 NameExoWorlds campaign. These names are incorporated in the IAU Catalog of Star Names.

Now that there are IAU-sanctioned proper names for some stars, this will require modification of articles referencing stellar naming conventions - including the idea that stars are no longer named after individuals (55 Cancri A was named Copernicus) and that pulsars don't have proper names (PSR B1257+12 was named Lich), for example. I've made a start by editing Astronomical naming conventions, Alpha Andromedae and Beta Cassiopeiae, but there are 124 stars and 1 pulsar in the IAU-CSN!

I had a query on what these names referred to in relation to multiple stars and had an email exchange with Prof Eric Mamajek, Chair, WGSN, who gave me permission to quote him as follows:

"I'll put it this way:
The proper names apply to the star in the Bright Star Catalog (the "HR" entry).
If the object is actually an unresolved multiple, then technically the name applies to the primary.
If the star has a wide, resolved companion (typically >arcsecond away), then the name applies to the primary.
One can append a "B", "C", etc. as warranted by the Washington Double Star Catalog or if it has a spectroscopic companion (e.g. in SB9 catalog).
Note that one commonly hears of the stars "Sirius A", "Procyon B", and now "Fomalhaut C" (my favorite!).
Many of these names are commonly used, and some are in SIMBAD (note that being in SIMBAD does not mean they are IAU-recognized; SIMBAD, SESAME, CDS are separate entities from the IAU, although they normally follow IAU guidelines and nomenclature very closely). However "Sirius B" itself is not an "official" IAU/WGSN name. It is possible that the WGSN may adopt proper names for components for such bright stars in the future, but this has not been decided yet. One of the ideas is that one of the cultural names could be adopted by the WGSN as a unique proper names for companions of bright stars.
I would also put it this way:
"Procyon" applies to the brighter of the two stars in that system, and this is now a WGSN-recognized name.
Informally, one may see the components called "Procyon A" and "Procyon B" in the literature and in SIMBAD.
However, I think it is possible that the WGSN may adopt another name for "Procyon B" in the future (but this would not preclude one from referring to the component as "Procyon B" informally!)."

My understanding is that this doesn't count as a verified independent source (though I asked Prof Mamajek to consider setting this out in a note to a future WGSN bulletin), but editors may wish to be aware of it in relevant articles.

Prof Mamajek also said one other thing which I'm happy to pass on: "Kudos to anyone who is helping improve the Wikipedia articles on anything astronomical!" :) Cuddlyopedia (talk) 13:17, 30 July 2016 (UTC)

I've now created an article on the IAU Working Group on Star Names, which has been reviewed and approved. Cuddlyopedia (talk) 05:54, 12 August 2016 (UTC)

Requested move, in conflict with current naming convention[edit]

See Talk:PSR B1257+12 A. Would like to see editors with some knowledge of this area commenting. Thanks, wbm1058 (talk) 14:45, 10 May 2017 (UTC)