Space lovers from around the world have a chance to give a Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) its “official nickname.” The winner receives a lifetime of bragging rights, but the prize for science is far more compelling: Knowledge that could defend the planet from a civilization-ending asteroid impact, similar to the event that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
The Unistellar Network of Citizen Astronomers, the world’s largest network of backyard astronomers, and its scientific partner, the SETI Institute, a non-profit research organization that looks to understand life beyond Earth, conducted months of first-of-its-kind research on NEA 1999 AP10.
The work included observations across 7 countries in North America, Europe and Asia by 26 members of the Unistellar Network, along with robust data analysis and modeling conducted by astronomers and data scientists at SETI. Detailed findings, including the first-ever 3D model of this asteroid, will be presented at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting.
Contest celebrates the power of astronomy and citizen science
“The Nickname the Asteroid contest is part of Citizen Astronomy Month, which celebrates the democratization of astronomy,” said Laurent Marfisi, Chief Executive Officer at Unistellar. “The secrets of our universe are no longer reserved for professionals with decades of experience. While Unistellar’s advanced technology and partnership with the SETI Institute enables all eVscope users to contribute valuable astronomical research and participate in the process of scientific discovery, during Citizen Astronomy Month we want to extend that philosophy further and invite all backyard astronomers to join our network and make their mark on science.”
Backyard and budding astronomers of all ages, from all over the world, are encouraged to participate. Contestants may submit their names for consideration via Unistellar’s Facebook page or at . Submissions will be evaluated on News Value, Scientific Value, Creativity and Relevance, and must include a short paragraph detailing the justification for the name.
Anyone can enter the contest from Dec. 6-16. Backyard and budding astronomers of all ages, from all over the world, are encouraged to participate. Contestants may submit their names for consideration via Unistellar’s Facebook page or at https://unistellaroptics.com/contest/.
Submissions will be evaluated on News Value, Scientific Value, Creativity and Relevance, and must include a short paragraph detailing the justification for the name.
Following public voting to determine 10 finalists, the winner will be determined by a panel of esteemed judges including actor Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager); Nancy C. Wolfson, Vice Chair of the International Astronautical Federation’s Technical Committee on Near Earth Objects (NEOs); and Franck Marchis, senior planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute and Chief Scientific Officer at Unistellar.
Nickname the Asteroid Contest Guidelines
Might the winning entry become the Asteroid NEA 1999 AP10‘s official name? Following Unistellar’s official announcement at the Star Party, the winning name will be submitted to and judged by the 15-person Working Group for Small Body Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), an international group of professional astronomers with research interests related to minor planets and/or comets.
All proposed names will be evaluated to ensure they are appropriate and adhere to the IAU guidelines. Names need to be:
- 16 characters or less in length
- Preferably one word
- Pronounceable (in some language)
- Not too similar to an existing name of a minor planet or natural planetary satellite
- Not associated with individuals or events principally known for political or military activities until 100 years after the death of the individual or the occurrence of the event
- Not something that would be used for profit or is purely or principally of a commercial nature
Approved names and submissions will be open for voting on Unistellar’s Facebook page from Dec. 6-Dec.16. The top 10 names based on popular vote will be evaluated by a panel of judges, and one winner will be selected.
For full legal rules, please view https://bit.ly/3pWV0NO.