Isle of Man school wins planet-naming competition
Following a public vote, the UK has named an exoplanet Cruinlagh and its host star Gloas, two suggestions put forward by a primary school on the Isle of Man.
As part of a global competition launched by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to celebrate its 100th anniversary, schools and youth organisations across the country were invited to suggest new names for an exoplanet and its host star.
Class 4/5G of Cronk y Berry Primary School in the Isle of Man proposed the names Cruinlagh (pronounced crunlack) and Gloas (pronounced glowas) which are Manx Gaelic words meaning ‘orbit’ and ‘shine’ respectively, describing the physical actions of the exoplanet and star.
The final UK names were selected from over 1,000 individual suggestions, submitted by more than 10,000 young people across the country. After it was narrowed down to the top ten, the public had the final say to crown the winner.
The UK’s designated exoplanet, previously referred to as WASP-13b, is a large, gaseous planet about a third of the size of Jupiter. Its host star, formerly known as WASP-13, is over 740 light years from Earth and larger, hotter and older than our own Sun.
Worldwide, more than 110 countries participated in the IAU competition to give new names to different planetary systems. More than 360,000 names were submitted in total, and over 400,000 votes were cast around the world to decide on the final names.
Professor Robert Walsh, professor of astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and UK national outreach coordinator for the IAU, was responsible for overseeing the UK arm of the IAU competition. Commenting on the results, he said:
“The quality of suggestions was truly exceptional, and it was great to see young minds across the country engaging with science in a new and novel way. The chosen names have had some real thought put into them and I’m thrilled that the talented class of Cronk y Berry Primary School have truly made their mark on the universe – something that they can cherish for years to come.”
Tina Graham, teacher of class 4/5G at Cronk y Berry Primary School said:
“This competition was an amazing opportunity to get our pupils thinking about what exists beyond our own Solar System. To find out that our names are the ones that the public has chosen for the planet and star is truly mind-blowing. It’s testament to the creativity and talent of the entire class and we’re incredibly proud that a piece of our culture, language and history has now made its way across the stars.”
The UK competition was a partnership between the IAU, UCLan, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Royal Astronomical Society, UK European Space Education Research Office, Girlguiding, the University of Warwick, the National Schools Observatory, the Association of Science and Discovery Centres, the British Association of Planetaria and UKFAST.