For the first time in history, the Czech public has been invited to participate in a poll to name a new planet.
The naming rights for the planet have been granted to the Czech Republic by the IAU (International Astronomical Union), which has long served as the authority in the naming of planets and extraterrestrial objects.
To celebrate its 100 birthday, which will occur on July 29, 2019, the IAU has invited countries around the world to participate in the naming of planets under the Name ExoWorlds II project, with each nation around the world granted a single planet to give a new name.
The planet given to the Czech Republic currently has the name XO-5b, and sits in the constellation Rysa, 910 light years away from Earth. It was discovered 11 years ago; read more about XO-5b here.
A gaseous planet slightly larger than Jupiter, XO-5b is part of a solar system that revolves around a sun-like star which currently bears the designation XO-5.
To name the planet, the Czech public is invited to participate in an online poll at the website www.pojmenujexoplanetu.cz. Until September 30, submissions for the planet name can be made through an online form at the website.
A jury will then nominate final candidates from the submissions, and conduct a final vote amongst members of the public. The IAU will announce the new name in December.
The naming has some rules, however. The planet cannot bear the name of a political or religious figure, so Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Václav Havel, and other famous figures in the history of the Czech Republic and Czechoslovakia are out.
The name also cannot come from a living person, so Karel Gott, Jaromír Jágr, and other living Czech celebrities are out. Additionally, the name cannot come from someone who has died less than 100 years ago, which also eliminates authors Franz Kafka and Karel Čapek (who would have been the perfect candidate) and other famous figures from the 20th century.
But those restrictions don’t seem to rule out who we predict may be the winner of the vote, if allowed by the panel of judges: fictional genius Jára Cimrman, who was also voted the “Greatest Czech” in a popular poll earlier this century before being disqualified for being, well, fictional.
If you’d like to participate in the voting for the new Czech planet, you can submit your name at this link through the end of September.