2 July 2010
Media - General (Good)
And the Winner Is...
The Naming X competition announces winner
by G B Leatherwood
In 1930 young American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh announced his finding of a tiny bright dot that moved, proving that it was a celestial body circling our sun and not just another star. Halfway around the world in England, 11-year-old Venetia Burney suggested that the new planet be named “Pluto,” for the Roman God of the Underworld who could make himself invisible. On 1 May 1930 the name “Pluto” was formally adopted for this new celestial body.

In 2010, eighty years later, school children of all ages were given the opportunity to accomplish a similar feat in honor of both the discovery and the one-year anniversary of the death of Venetia Burney Phair, then 89 years old. “Naming X” was a competition designed by 24-year-old amateur astronomer, space activist, and educator Thilina Heenatigala of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and filmmaker Ginita Jiminez, producer of the successful documentary Naming Pluto” under the auspices of the
="http://spacerenaissance.org/EDU/">Space Renaissance Initiative Education Chapter.

Through extensive publicity from astronomy and science publications and social networking, entries were received from over 38 countries and judged in three categories: ages 1 – 11 years, 12+ years, and Schools, Groups, and Astronomy Clubs. Entrants could submit names either individually or as groups, and educators were encouraged to develop class projects focused on minor planets , their significance in astronomical studies, and astronomy in general.

The winners in each category were:

• Category One, 1-11 years: “Glissade,” submitted by Erica Reed, 10 years old, US. “Planet Glissade sounds beautiful. Glissade means to glide along, as in ballet, which is like a planet, which glides along in the universe.”

• Category Two, 12+ years: “Erytheia,” Nathan Phillips, 15 years old, US.
“In Greek mythology, an island at the western edge of the world bathed red by the light of the setting sun.”

• Category Three, Schools, Groups, and Astronomy Clubs: “Virgil,” Bruce McHam-McKinney High School, US.
“In honor of both the poet and the astronaut (Grissom).”

Even though the winners of the three categories were all from the US, the rest of the world was well represented. There was a striking depth and breadth of knowledge of the universe by students as young as 8 years old, such as Akansha Sharma, from India. Her choice: “Naveen.” “Naveen is the synonym of Newness, change and something different. So I chose this name for a NEW planet.”

Or this one: “Anima,” entered by Nuwani Ishara Thotowatta, 16 years old, Sri Lanka. “Anima is [a Latin] word, which means the soul. Finding a new planet makes us more curious as it may bring new expectations to our soul to live on a new planet like as the Earth.”

And another: “Makrilios,” by Deanta Kelly, 12 years old, USA. “Makrilios is a contraction of the Greek words makrinos, meaning far, and ilios, meaning sun. This is because at Kuiper belt distances, the sun is far.”

Each of the entrants will receive a DVD and a poster of Naming Pluto , telescope time at Bellatrix Observatory, Italy, and a signed certificate from the judges.

Winning names will be included in a formal proposal to the International Astronomical Union's Committee for Small Body Nomenclature.

For complete information about the competition, the winners and runners-up, and the judges, go to the official website, here.
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G B Leatherwood 2 July 2010
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