BBC Sky at Night Magazine



Reading Field of View in the April issue about the Internatio­nal Astronomic­al Union (IAU) naming convention for stars and their planets, I was reminded of the online space exploratio­n, trading and combat game Elite Dangerous

and its planetary naming system, which, to me, seems more logical than the one the IAU uses. The creators put all known, catalogued stars into the game at their correct distances, brightness­es and spectral types and also added exoplanets. The naming system in Elite doesn’t involve renaming a star with an ‘a’ and then adding b, c, d, etc for its planets and is, I would suggest, more consistent than the IAU one. It uses capital letters for stars in close associatio­n and differenti­ates planets from stars with numbers, and exomoons from planets with a lower-case letter. For non-catalogued stars the game’s developers generated a naming system that organises the stars in sectors, eg, ‘PRAEA EUQ SV-G C26-1’, for a star in the ‘PRAEA EUQ’

sector. It also copes with describing a planet that might orbit all or part of a group of stars, eg, ‘M7 SECTOR WP-W C2-13 BCDE 2’, the second planet orbiting four of the stars of a five-star cluster. Finally, if, like me, you and the readers are frustrated space explorers, then Elite Dangerous is the next best thing.

Raymond D Wright, Devizes, Wilts A fascinatin­g observatio­n, Raymond. The challenge with planetary naming is to come up with a system that can cope with our growing knowledge of exoplanets, as well as their remarkable variabilit­y. – Ed.

 ??  ?? Have the creators of the game Elite Dangerous solved the problem of naming exoplanets?
Have the creators of the game Elite Dangerous solved the problem of naming exoplanets?

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