A new website has appeared, the International Asteroid Database that offers the opportunity to name an asteroid – for a fee of course!
Not only is this a complete scam, but it is a real slap in the face for the dedicated individuals and organisations that earn naming rights by discovering asteroids and doing the work to follow-up their observations.
The only organisation officially allowed to name asteroids is the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Actually, of course, anyone can give an object in the sky a name – why not call Saturn “Fred”, and then print out a pretty certificate to say so? How stupid is that! Only IAU sanctioned designations will be known and used by everyone.
From the IAU CSBN site: http://www.ss.astro.umd.edu/IAU/csbn/
Naming Small Bodies – The committee welcomes questions or suggestions about its procedures or suggestions of specific names for certain objects. However, neither the CSBN nor the IAU nor either the CBAT or MPC sells names of comets or asteroids to the public. This derives from the general policy of the IAU on selling names for celestial bodies which you can read at the IAU web site. <http://www.iau.org/IAU/FAQ/starnames.html> The CBAT and the MPC do sometimes name comets or asteroids for people, but only under certain, well-defined guidelines, as linked below.
Here are some extracts from the International Asteroid Database website:
“Introducing the International Asteroid Database
This service maintains a powerful database containing all sorts of information about the asteroids in our solar system. Much of this information is accessible from this site. When you register an asteroid name, we add the name to the asteroid you have selected into the database. Each asteroid has only one name.
All registrants receive a technically detailed and beautiful certificate, suitable for framing, with information and graphics about their asteroid. See an example of the certificate.
Also, all named asteroids will be listed in SpaceVentures forthcoming book, “The Minor Planets”, to be listed in the US Copyright Office”
So, for $59.95 you get a worthless certificate and a CD about an asteroid that you can’t name! Sound pretty “scammy” to me.