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Name A Minor Planet

Name A Minor Planet!

2010 celebrates the 80th anniversary of the discovery of Pluto and marks the 1st anniversary of Venetia Burney Phair, the most influential 11year old in the history of astronomy who, died on 30th April 2009, aged 90.

Venetia was a young schoolgirl living in Oxford, England in 1930, when she came up with the name Pluto for the newly discovered Planet X.

In the only documentary about Venetia’s story made by Father Films and entitled Naming Pluto, Venetia recalls the moment she came up with the name. “My grandfather opened the paper and in it he read that a new planet had been discovered. He wondered what it should be called. We all wondered then I said, “Why not call it Pluto”. And the whole thing stemmed from that.”

As a tribute to Venetia’s extraordinary contribution and to its young discoverer, the American Clyde Tombaugh, Space Renaissance Education Chapter, in collaboration with Father Films, announce the launch of Naming X, a global online competition, to find the next influential student or school group with the creative and scientific talent to suggest a suitable name for a minor planet and a reason why. The Committee for Small Body Nomenclature (CSBN) of the International Astronomical Union, the body responsible for the naming of minor planets and comets, is supporting this educational initiative and will consider the winning names for the naming of minor planets.

‘We have a first class judging panel and with the support of CSBN we are very excited to see the results of an inspired global think tank. We may even repeat history’ say organisers Thilina Heenatigala & Ginita Jimenez.

Judges for Naming X include Canadian astronomer & comet discoverer, David Levy, Professor Ian Morison of Gresham University, who holds the oldest chair of Astronomy in the world also held by Christopher Wren and Marc W. Buie, collaborator on the New Horizons Mission to Pluto & staff scientist at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), one of the oldest and largest independent, nonprofit, applied research and development (R&D) organizations in the United States. Educators, Carolina Odman, Julia Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Ivey-Duensing and Joan Chamberlin will also assist.

Applicants can only apply online and must follow the competition’s guidelines very carefully. For full terms and conditions and winning prizes visit:

Naming X closes on 30th May 2010 and winning names will be announced around June 14th 2010. If you had a chance to name a minor planet, what name would you give it and why?

Naming X, a global online competition launches 30th April 2010 at:


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