News on Sunday

Mauritius honoured to name an exoplanet

In line with the International Astronomical Union (IAU) 100th anniversary celebration, Mauritians have been invited to name an Exoplanet, WASP-72b, in the constellation of Fornax. WASP-72 b is a gas giant exoplanet that 1 orbits a F-type star. Its mass is 2.3 times that of Jupiter. The earth takes around 365 days to make 1 round of our Sun whereas this planet takes only 2.2 days to complete one orbit of its star. Its discovery was announced in 2012.

As part of its mission to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy through international cooperation, the IAU is the authority responsible for assigning official names to celestial bodies. Now, while celebrating its first100 years of fostering international collaboration (IAU100), the IAU wishes to contribute to the fraternity of all people with a significant token of global identity. 

Following the first NameExoWorlds competition, which named 19 exoplanets in 2015, the IAU will now, within the framework of the IAU100 NameExoWorlds project, offer every country the chance to name one planetary system, comprising an exoplanet and its host star. Each country’s designated star is visible from that country, and sufficiently bright to be observed through small telescopes.

The IAU encourages all people of Earth to consider themselves “Citizens of the Cosmos”, and set aside borders, wars, and cultural differences for a universal, peaceful view of humanity as just one race, possibly among many cosmic neighbours in the Universe.

“The proposed names should be of things, people, or places of long-standing cultural, historical, or geographical significance, worthy of being assigned to a celestial object”, says IAU. More guidelines for the naming can be found on the IAU NameExoworlds website (http://www.nameexoworlds.iau.org/naming-rules). The shortlisted names will be announced in December 2019. A committee has been set up by the IAU National Outreach Coordinator (IAU-NOC) of Mauritius. The Mauritian team page can be viewed on https://iau-noc-mur.netlify.com/ and follow our Facebook Page for updates on https://bit.ly/iau-mur-fb.

International Astronomical Union (IAU) celebrating its 100th anniversary

In 2019, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is celebrating its 100th anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, the IAU is organising a year-long celebration to increase awareness of a century of astronomical discoveries as well as to support and improve the use of astronomy as a tool for education, development and diplomacy under the central theme “Under One Sky” (see www.iau-100.org for more information).

The centennial celebrations will stimulate worldwide interest in astronomy and science and will reach out to the global astronomical community, national science organisations, societies, policy-makers, students, families and the general public through the national nodes established in over 100 countries organising national activities. As of March 2019, there are registered over 2,600 events in 104 countries to be organised during the year (www.iau-100.org/events), which clearly shows the large reach of the initiative.

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