Posted on behalf of the Uwingu team; Astronomy magazine is a proud partner of this effort to raise funding for space science
Commercial space start-up Uwingu announced Wednesday the launch of its fully commercial website at www.uwingu.com. The site allows the public to enter names for planets around other stars into a registry that astronomers and others can select from to name faraway planets. Much of the proceeds from these name nominations will be used generate a source of grants to fund space exploration, research, and education — called The Uwingu Fund.
“Astronomers have estimated that our galaxy — the Milky Way — harbors 160 billion or more planets. That’s more than 20 planets for every living person on Earth,” said astronomer and Uwingu CEO Alan Stern. “This is a first step in democratizing planet naming. And it’s a new way for the people of Earth, of every age, of every nation, of every walk of life to personally connect to space discoveries. Never before Uwingu was it possible for everyday people to get involved in planet naming.”
People can nominate exoplanet names for their favorite town, state, or country, their favorite sports team, music artist, or hero, their favorite author or book, school, their company, for their loved ones and friends, or even for themselves.
Individual Uwingu planet name nominations cost $4.99; there is no limit on the number of nominations a person or entity can sponsor. Uwingu makes volume discounts available to purchasers of blocks of names.
Leading planet hunter, astronomer Geoff Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley, added, "The myriad planets being discovered across the galaxy are a tribute to our natural human desire to explore beyond the horizon. Now people all over the world can participate in these discoveries in a new way, giving identities and even personality to billions of planets in our galaxy for the first time. I‘m excited, and hope you will be too. Try it and see, at www.uwingu.com."
About Uwingu: Uwingu (which means “sky” in Swahili, and is pronounced “oo-wing-oo”) was formed by a team of leading astronomers, planetary scientists, former space program executives, and educators. The company includes space historian and author Andrew Chaikin, space educator Emily CoBabe-Ammann, citizen science leader Pamela Gay, author and former museum science director David Grinspoon, planet hunter Geoff Marcy, planetary scientist and aerospace executive Teresa Segura, planetary scientist and former NASA science boss Alan Stern, and planetary scientist and CEO of the Planetary Science Institute Mark Sykes, former executive director of the Planetary Society Louis Friedman, and space artists Jon Lomberg and Dan Durda. In September, Uwingu successfully concluded one of the 25 largest Indiegogo crowd-funding campaigns ever to launch an ongoing series of public engagement projects.