Why isn't there an effort to name non-stellar celestial objects?

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In summary, the amateur astronomer thinks that star clusters and asteroids should have official names, and that the professionals are doing it wrong.
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TL;DR Summary
I am wondering why there isn't an effort to name non-stellar objects like they do seem to be doing with stars.
I find it kind of strange that some of the brightest star clusters (and probably other things too), do not have official names or seemingly no names at all.
For instance there are 3 really bright clusters around the Carina Nebula:
- NGC 3532: Which seems to be called a bunch of different names
- NGC 3293: Also has a bunch of different names
- NGC 3114: Doesn't seem to have a name at all.
These clusters are easily visible in binoculars.
As an amateur astronomer, I find it really hard to think or talk about objects as numbers. They deserve names.
Do you think there might ever be an effort to create/standardise non-stellar objects like the IAU Working Group on Star names?

 
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  • #2
Nathi ORea said:
- NGC 3532
- NGC 3293
- NGC 3114
Aren't these names?
 
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  • #3
Motore said:
Aren't these names?
I mean an actual word name. This is just a catalogue number.
 
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  • #4
I think it's just a case of "who cares". The catalog numbers are unambiguous, easily indexed, and don't suffer from regional spelling/alphabet variations. People can hang any localised nickname they like off them without any need for formal agreement if they actually feel a need for it.
 
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  • #5
Nathi ORea said:
I mean an actual word name. This is just a catalogue number.
Musk wouldn't agree :)
 
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  • #6
Nathi ORea said:
TL;DR Summary: I am wondering why there isn't an effort to name non-stellar objects like they do seem to be doing with stars.

As an amateur astronomer, I find it really hard to think or talk about objects as numbers. They deserve names.
So you want a committee established to allocate names to objects in the catalogue. Will you pay the committee members for their time ?

Someone will rely on their memory, but get it wrong, and so waste valuable observatory time observing the wrong patch of sky.

Who will maintain and distribute the translation codebook or cross-index that is then needed to convert backwards and forwards between the catalogue and the partial list of names that are allocated ?
 
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  • #7
Baluncore said:
So you want a committee established to allocate names to objects in the catalogue. Will you pay the committee members for their time ?
To be fair, I think the IAU does assign official names to asteroids alongside catalogue numbers. I'm not sure why asteroids get the honour and not stars. Maybe it's also that we occasionally discover that what we thought was a star isn't (Vanadium 50 cited BL Lacertae in a recent post) and then what do we do with the name? Asteroids are close enough that we're pretty certain that it's just a hunk of rock.
 
  • #8
Nathi ORea said:
As an amateur astronomer, I find it really hard to think or talk about objects as numbers. They deserve names.
Do you think there might ever be an effort to create/standardise non-stellar objects like the IAU Working Group on Star names?
The NGC catalog has thousands of objects, far too many to assign names to. Besides, many of the easily visible targets in the night sky already have names. Orion Nebula, Monkey Head Nebula, California Nebula, Christmas Tree Cluster, etc.
 
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  • #9
Nathi ORea said:
As an amateur astronomer
So your position is that the professionals are doing it wrong? Are you sure that's the path you want to go down?
 
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  • #10
Nathi ORea said:
TL;DR Summary: I am wondering why there isn't an effort to name non-stellar objects like they do seem to be doing with stars.

I find it kind of strange that some of the brightest star clusters (and probably other things too), do not have official names or seemingly no names at all.
For instance there are 3 really bright clusters around the Carina Nebula:
- NGC 3532: Which seems to be called a bunch of different names
- NGC 3293: Also has a bunch of different names
- NGC 3114: Doesn't seem to have a name at all.
These clusters are easily visible in binoculars.
As an amateur astronomer, I find it really hard to think or talk about objects as numbers. They deserve names.
Do you think there might ever be an effort to create/standardise non-stellar objects like the IAU Working Group on Star names?
It does seem a bit soulless even if it's the practical thing to do.
 
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  • #11
PeroK said:
It does seem a bit soulless even if it's the practical thing to do.
Where a traditional descriptive name is used, the name should always be followed by a catalogue number.
 
  • #12
Sometimes there is a "right" catalog number. M31 vs. NGC224. Who ever heard of NGC224?
 
  • #13
Ibix said:
I think it's just a case of "who cares". The catalog numbers are unambiguous, easily indexed, and don't suffer from regional spelling/alphabet variations. People can hang any localised nickname they like off them without any need for formal agreement if they actually feel a need for it.
They just seem to care about stars and asteroids and other things is all. I mean, catalogue numbers can still be used... There seems to be a bunch of organisations that standardise common names. Common names of birds here in Australia have been standardised. I just think as humans we like to think of things with names... gives things 'personality'. I would imagine catalogue names for stars are still used for those ones they've named recently.
 
  • #14
Baluncore said:
So you want a committee established to allocate names to objects in the catalogue.
It just seems like they do it for other things. Why not star clusters.
Baluncore said:
Someone will rely on their memory, but get it wrong, and so waste valuable observatory time observing the wrong patch of sky.

Who will maintain and distribute the translation codebook or cross-index that is then needed to convert backwards and forwards between the catalogue and the partial list of names that are allocated ?
Catalogue numbers can still be used. The IAU does it for other things. There seems to be many efforts to standardise common names of things all over the world. Because it is useful for all sorts of reasons, such as what I've already mentioned in this thread
 
  • #15
PeroK said:
It does seem a bit soulless even if it's the practical thing to do.
I think as humans we like to give things worded (or whatever you want to call it) names. Just the way out brains work.
 
  • #16
Vanadium 50 said:
So your position is that the professionals are doing it wrong? Are you sure that's the path you want to go down?
Just a question about why an organisation does a certain thing. Not that big a deal mate.
 
  • #17
Ibix said:
To be fair, I think the IAU does assign official names to asteroids alongside catalogue numbers. I'm not sure why asteroids get the honour and not stars. Maybe it's also that we occasionally discover that what we thought was a star isn't (Vanadium 50 cited BL Lacertae in a recent post) and then what do we do with the name? Asteroids are close enough that we're pretty certain that it's just a hunk of rock.
There's also the IAU Working Group on Star Names (WGSN)

https://www.iau.org/public/themes/naming_stars/

Star clusters get no love but... and I'm talking about bright binocular clusters.
 
  • #18
Probably because there is more effort on actually studying the stars than naming them, especially with more and more discoveries every day.
 

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