A minor planet in the Solar System will officially be known as Bernardbowen from today after Australian citizen science project theSkyNet won a competition to name the celestial body.
The minor planet was named by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in honour of their founding chairman Dr Bernard Bowen.
Bernardbowen sits in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and takes 3.26 Earth years to orbit the Sun. The minor planet was discovered on October 28, 1991, and until now has been known as (6196) 1991 UO4.
Based at ICRAR, theSkyNet has been running since 2011 and sees citizen scientists donating their spare computing power to help Australian astronomers uncover the mysteries of the Universe.
Its 50,000-odd volunteers entered an International Astronomical Union (IAU) contest to name planets beyond our Solar System.
Project founders ICRAR also won the right to name a minor planet within our Solar System.
Bernardbowen was one of 17 minor planets to be christened today. Other newly named minor planets include Kagura, after a traditional Shinto theatrical dance, and Mehdia, which is equivalent to the Arabic word for gift.
Dr Bowen is renowned as one of the country’s finest science administrators and has presided over scientific advances ranging from the oceans to the skies. He was instrumental in the establishment of ICRAR in 2009, and helped bring part of the Square Kilometre Array telescope to Western Australia.
A full list of the citation of the minor planets can be found at the IAU Minor Planet Circular.
Bernardbowen on the Minor Planet Centre site, including an interactive showing its position in the Solar System.
IAU Press Release: www.iau.org/news/pressreleases/detail/iau1701
In 2015, the IAU organised the NameExoWorlds contest, which provided the first opportunity for the public to submit names for exoplanets and their stars. As a result, the names of 19 ExoWorlds (14 stars and 31 exoplanets orbiting them) were chosen by public vote, and accepted by the IAU. These names became the official designations of the exoplanets and stars.
As a reward to the winners, they were given the exciting opportunity to name minor planets in our Solar System. The IAU, via its Division F Working Group Small Bodies Nomenclature (SBN), recently approved the new names of 17 minor planets after the winners made their proposals
A minor planet is an astronomical object in direct orbit around the Sun that is neither a planet nor exclusively classified as a comet. Minor planets can be dwarf planets, asteroids, trojans, centaurs, Kuiper belt objects, and other trans-Neptunian objects.
The 17 names are named after astronomers, educators, authors, poets, and theatrical dances, as well as the names and locations of astronomical organisations. The complete set of 17 newly minted Minor Planets are:
The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) is a joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia with support and funding from the State Government of Western Australia.
By connecting 100s and 1000s of computers together through the Internet, it’s possible to simulate a single machine capable of doing some pretty amazing stuff. That’s what theSkyNet is all about – using your spare computing power to process radio astronomy data. www.theskynet.org
About the IAU
The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 10 000 professional astronomers from almost 100 countries. Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world’s largest professional body for astronomers. www.iau.org
Pete Wheeler—Media Contact, ICRAR (Perth, UTC+8)
M: +61 423 982 018
Sze-leung Cheung—IAU International Outreach Coordinator (Toyko, Japan, UTC+9)
Tel: +81 80 92742454
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An image created by the International Astronomical Union showing the orbit of Minor Planet Bernardbowen. Credit: IAU
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An image taken from the Minor Planet Centre’s web applet (http://www.minorplanetcenter.net) showing the orbit of Minor Planet Bernardbowen.