IAU Transactions XXIVB

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(the following is excerpted from the book published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in 2001)


Edited by
General Secretary of the Union

from p. 118

5.4. Working Group on Planetary System Nomenclature

The WG has new terms of reference from the FC, which are parallel to the new terms of the CSBN. The WG noted that 216 new names will be submitted to the GA for approval, and that in future GA's the Division will be asked to decide appeals of any future controversial names.

The proposed slate of members was presented. Members of the Division noted that the proposed membership of the WG was very narrow geographically, consisting primarily of members from the United States and Russia. This is due to the fact that historically these were the countries whose space missions led to the images and maps for which names were needed. Members also noted the importance of increasing diversity in other ways, both in gender and in bringing in younger members of the IAL, particularly in view of the high visibility of naming as an activity of the TAG. Current members of the WG pointed out that the task of this WG is quite specialized, requiring significant experience, and that change in the WG should thus occur slowly. They also pointed out that within the WG great efforts had been made to be culturally sensitive in choice of names, and that members of the Task Forces of the WC were indeed more balanced in age, gender, and national origin.

The Division then voted to approve the slate for WG membership as presented (see the WG report), with the proviso that the Division request the EC and the President of the WG to consider how best to add at least two new members to the WG, to respond to the concerns of diversity.

Michael F. A'Hearn
President of the Division

from pp. 119-120


1. The IAU Working Group on Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN)

The Working Group is appointed by IAU Division III under similar procedures as Divisional Working Groups (IAU Working Rules 38). It reports to the General Assembly through the President of Division III. For necessary meetings, the Working Group is eligible for travel support from the IAU.

2. The membership of the Working Group includes:

  • A President of the WGPSN and a minimum of 8 other members of IAU Division III, including all the chairpersons of the Task Groups (see item g), representing a diversity of geographical and cultural backgrounds.
  • The President of IAU Division III. The President may delegate the divisional representation to another Division member.
  • The President of IA U Commission 16, Physical Study of Planets and .Satellites, or his/her representative.
  • The Chairperson of the IAU Committee on Small Body Nomenclature, or his/her representative.
  • Additional members up to a maximum of 15, including a maximurn of 3 consultants who possess special expertise but are not IAU meinbers.
  • A member may be in more than one of the above categories.
  • The Working Group may appoint Task Groups of up to six members, including a Chairperson, to assist in the nomenclature work for the various celestial bodies, a.,; the need arises.

3. Appointment and Terms of Service:

The members, including the President, will be appointed for three years at each General Assembly by Division III, upon the advice of the outgoing Working Group. The Working Group may appoint or dismiss Task Group members at any time. Continuity in the work is important, so Working Group and Task Group members are encouraged to serve through several triennia.

4. Names and Guidelines

*The Working Group will develop, maintain, and publish guidelines for naming natural satellites of major and minor planets and surface features on all of these bodies plus comets, based on the established guidelines. Significant changes in the guidelines should be submitted by the Working Group to Division III for discussion and approval at a General Assembly before being put into effect. Minor changes may be approved by the Division President and reported at the General Assembly.
  • The Working Group will periodically approve lists of new nomenclature, with accompanying explanatory notes. Such lists will be promptly made public through such channels as decided by the Working Group.
  • At the beginning of the year of each General Assembly, the Working Group will submit to the IAU General Secretary, through the Division, a list of all names approved in the immediately preceding three calendar years. In the IAU Information Bulletin for January of that year, IAU members will be invited to inspect this list. Any objections based on significant, substantive problems with these names must be forwarded in writing to the President of Division III at least three months prior to the start of the General Assembly. Valid reasons do not include personal preferences of the discoverers or other individuals.
  • Any appeals of decisions by the Working Group will be considered by Division III at the following General Assembly. The Division will submit a report to the General Assembly, indicating the absence or resolution of any appeals. This report and the list of new names as possibly amended will be published in the Proceedings of the General Assembly (or may be cited there if a suitable external reference is available).

January 19, 2000

from p. 145



PRESIDENT: Kaare Aksnes

MEMBERS: M. A'Hearn, M. E. Davies, C. de Bergh, M. Ya. Marov, B. G. Marsden, P. Moore, T. C. Owen, V. V. Shevchenko, B. A. Smith
CONSULTANTS: J. Blue, G. A. Burba, L. Gaddis, P. Masson

1. New organization and operation

The WGPSN held two sessions on 14 August 2000 during the 24th General Assembly in Manchester. The first session was held jointly with the Committee on Small Body Names (CSBN). The main issue was whether or not to join the two WG's into one WG. Although both deal with nomenclature of Solar system bodies, it was agreed that the modes of operation of the WG's are so different that nothing would be gained by joining them. Furthermore, the current membership rules ensure that at least two of the members belong to both WG's and can therefore serve as liaison between the groups.

In the second session, "Terms of Reference" which had been proposed for the WGPSN by the General Secretary in consultation with Division III and WGPSN, were discussed and found to be acceptable. The most important changes in the way that the WGPSN operates are that henceforth (i) the WG reports to Division III instead of to the Executive Committee, and (ii) the WG may release provisional names immediately upon approval by the WG, but these names are subject to final approval by a General Assembly.

The WGPSN has been criticised for having a poor international distribution of its members and for lacking young astronomers. The problem is that to serve on this WG, one should be well familiar with planetary spacecraft mapping which rather few nations are involved with. The nomenclature work also requires continuity which speaks for serving on the WG for several triennia. But there is a need for rejuvenation of the WG, and this will be achieved by bringing in more young members in the Task Groups from which the WG members are usually recruited.

2. Members of WGPSN for the triennium 2000 – 2003

MEMBERS: G. A. Burba, D. Cruikahank, M. E. Davies, M. Ya. Marov, 13. G. Marsden, P. Moore, T. C. Owen, V. V. Shevchenko, B. A. Smith
CONSULTANTS: J. Blue, L. Gaddis, P. Masson

3. Changes to approved nomenclature 1997 - 2000

from p. 146 (italicized explanations have been added for clarity -- they are not part of the IAU Transactions)


Change Armínski to Arminsky -- (change in accent on "n"; note: current spelling is "Arminski")
Change Bernouilli to Bernoulli
Change Koval'skij to Koval'skiy
Change Mackin-Apollo to Mackin
Change MacLauren to Maclauren -- (note: current spelling is "Maclaurin")
Change Mohoróvicic to Mohorovicic -- (change in accents)
Change Niépce to Niepce
Change Nüsl to Nusl --(accented s)
Change Safarík to Safarík -- (change in accents)
Change Shulejkin to Shuleykin
Change Walter to Walther
Change Widmanstatten to Widmannstatten --(note: current spelling is "Widmannstätten", printed in Transactions with different kind of accent mark on a)
Drop Vinogradov and Rimae Hase

4. New nomenclature 1997 - 2000

from pp. 150-1


DIAM (km)


Nathaniel; English Astronomer Royal, (1700-1764)


Kurt Heinrich; German physicist (1908-1983).

de Gerlache

Adrien; Belgian Antarctic explorer (1866-1934).


Harlan J. Smith; American astronomer (1924-1991).


Eugene Merle; American astrogeologist (1928-1997).


Otto; Norwegian polar explorer (1855-1930).