MBO runs competition to name a planet

In 2019, as part of the 100th Anniversary celebrations of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) every country in the world was given the chance to name their own star and an orbiting exoplanet. This was part of the Name Exoplanet II Project. Mount Burnett Observatory ran the Australian competition.

The star chosen for Australia to name was originally known by its catalogue number HD 38283. It is a 7th magnitude yellow-white dwarf star in the constellation of Mensa (the Table). At that magnitude, this star is not visible to the unaided eye. Mensa contains part of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) within its boundaries, which is the largest satellite galaxy to our own Milky Way, but HD 38283 is definitely within the Milky Way, lying only 125 light years away. By comparison the LMC is 180,000 light years distant.

Mensa is named after Table Mountain at the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa. The misty star cloud of the LMC is reminiscent of the cloud that often sits atop the real mountain at the cape.

The exoplanet, currently designated HD 38283 b, is a gas giant type planet with 0.4 times the mass of Jupiter. It orbits the star at roughly the same distance as the Earth does the Sun (1.02 AU) and in 363.2 Earth days.

The winning entry was from Haileybury Early Learning Centre in Castlefield.

“We are on Boonwurrung country in the Kulin Nation in Victoria and the preschool children – 4 year olds- voted to use Boonwurrung language to name the planet and star, they also voted to use words relating to family as the theme that could be extended for further stars or planets. Bubup is the Boonwurrung word for Child and is therefore significant to them. Yan Yan is the word for boy.”

The new name for star HD 38283 is Bubup, and the new name for HD 38283b is Yan Yan.

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