The universe is huge. So huge that we can’t begin to comprehend it.
With advancing telescope technology, it is possible to discover a new planet and star every day, for billions of years.
With such a huge catalog, astronomers are left to give the stars and planets forgettable names like Ross 775, GJ 1068 and GJ 4063.
Indeed, one of those planets discovered in 2012 was named WASP-62b. WASP stands for Wide Angle Search for Planets. This particular planet was discovered using the SuperWASP telescope at the South African Astronomical Observatory in Sutherland.
WASP-62b is a giant gas, just like Jupiter, but large enough to hold 1000 earths. It orbits its star, WASP-62, every 4.4 days.
This star system is 572 light years from us, meaning it would take its light 572 years to reach to us. That also means we are seeing it as it was 572 years in the past.
To put that in perspective, the fastest man-made object, NASA’s Solar Parker Solar Probe, traveling at 692,000 km/h, would take almost 900,000 years to get there.
South Africans have been given the chance to give this planet a proper name. 4 potential names have already been shortlisted by the “Name an Exoplanet” initiative, for both the planet and the star it orbits.
- Krotoa (planet) and Naledi (star)
- Sceletium (planet) and Buchu (star)
- Ingoma (planet) and Ubunye (star)
- Gannaga (planet) and Roggeveld (star)
The names have a South African origin, with “Sceletium” and “Buchu” recognizing the indigenous plants of the Sutherland region.
Krotoa suffered adversity and abuse but played an important role at the time of the arrival of the settlers.
Naledi means ‘star’ in Sesotho.
Ingoma is a popular dance in the Zulu tradition performed at important transition events in the person’s life.
Ubunye means ‘unity’ in the isiZulu language
Roggeveld is a mountain range near Sutherland
Gannaga pass is one of the passes crossing this mountain range.
Voting on this closes on November 14, 2019. Vote HERE.