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Here's Your Chance to Help Name A Planet

An artist's rendering of 20017 OR10.
An artist's rendering of 20017 OR10.

Three astronomers who discovered a minor planet more than a decade ago are now asking the public to help them name it.

The planet, 2007 OR10, is in the Kuiper Belt, which is a huge area beyond Neptune that’s filled with comets, asteroids and other small, icy objects.

The rule is that minor planets in the belt have to be named for mythological figures associated with creation.

The astronomers came up with three suggestions they say meet the requirement and they’re asking people to go online and vote for their favorite.

Thomas Webber teaches AP physics at Oakleaf High School in Clay County. He loves the crowd-naming idea. 

“Things like this remove a barrier and if we can just get that one student to do that one Google search to learn more about it. And then they learn more and they learn more and then they’ve become the next Carl Sagan. You know, it’s all about interest. That’s why I think this is really nice.”

The choices are Gonggong, a Chinese water god; Holle, a European goddess of fertility; and the Nordic deity, Vili.

The deadline to weigh-in on your favorite is midnight, May 10.

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Contact reporter Cyd Hoskinson at choskinson@wjct.org, 904-358-6351 and on Twitter at @cydwjctnews.

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