This is probably the most important thing you’ll ever vote for in your life.
And no, I’m not talking about your favorite celeb on Dancing with the Stars (I still think Evanna Lynch should have won last fall. Just saying).
Back in 2007, three scientists Meg Schwamb, Mike Brown and David Rabinowitz discovered a shifting blur through the lens of a 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope.
But it was a distinct blur in a sea of over 1000 Kuiper belt objects (KBO’s).
Schwamb staked her thesis on it and after 10 years it has finally gained dwarf planet status.
This blurry object from space has been affectionately known as 2007 OR10.
Now these astronomers from the International Astronomical Union (IAU) are calling on us mere stargazers to vote on its new name.
Now, it’s not often that scientists call upon the laypersons to name anything.
In 2016, British officials had to revoke the most popular name for their polar research vessel after the people picked “Boaty McBoatface.”
Instead, Schwamb and others have provided three choices for us.
To be honest, they have some pretty neat ones picked out.
First is Vili, one of the Norse gods. He helped in the fight against Ymir, which led to the creation of the world.
Next is Holle, named after a winter goddess of European descent and a patron to women everywhere.
Finally there is Gonggong, a Chinese water god that wreaks havoc and mayhem.
The qualifications of a planetary name are specific. According to the IAU’s naming page, “The name is intended to reflect the characteristics of the body itself, and be an appropriate moniker derived from mythology.”
As for 2007 OR10, its color is bright red. Scientists have found water, ice and very likely methane in its makeup.
It also has its own moon.
So it’s more than just a suspended rock out in the Kuiper belt.
Due to its volatile icy surface and its possession of a satellite, it exceeds the qualifications of a mere planetary-mass out past Neptune.
It’s a prominent figure worthy of nomenclature.
It’s a little world.
Now before you put down this article and decide your voice among the cosmos is irrelevant, I want you to think about this.
It has been a long time since anyone has had the chance to name a planet in our Solar System.
The last guys who did it were the Greeks.
Even though Pluto was named the ninth in 1930, by 2006 its rights as a planet have been retracted.
Lately, only dwarf planets are named when found spinning around in the frigid orbits of Pluto’s neighborhood, planetesimals like Eris and Sedna.
But we didn’t get to name those. The scientists did.
How often are objects like these even discovered, let alone named by the public?
Now the chance is ours, yours and mine, to decide the rightful title of a minor planet just a few light-years away.
We have three powerful names associated with the color red, in honor of 2007 OR10’s brightest feature.
They are each unique.
Personally, I like Gonggong.
The name is fun to say and it comes from the Chinese water god often depicted as a red-haired monster with the tail of a dragon.
He is blamed for major catastrophes and so is known as a god of chaos.
I for one am not against being a little problematic once in a while.
But that’s just me.
Which name appeals to you the most?
If you’re not sure, do a little research and decide what suits this shiny dwarf-planet best.
We get to be part of astronomical history.
So pick your favorite and let the universe know.
Go to: https://2007or10.name/index.html#what to choose.
Voting ends May 10.
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