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The Name Game

86 stars get official names

Choices reflect international community

By
9:00am, January 2, 2018
painting of stars

WRITTEN IN THE STARS  This painting by an aboriginal artist from Australia depicts the Milky Way, moon and ancient spirits. Newly official star names are inspired, in part, by historical astronomical writings and artifacts from indigenous cultures around the world.

In December, astronomers and space enthusiasts received an early present: 86 newly official star names.

Such designations are often derived from Arabic, Greek or Latin origins. But the new monikers also draw inspiration from ancient mythologies and historical star names from indigenous cultures around the world, including in China, Australia and southern Africa. The star names were officially recognized by the International Astronomical Union, which oversees the naming of objects in space, and announced on December 11. Here are some of the names we thought shined the brightest.

Xamidimura

Constellation: Scorpius 
According to South African lore, the indigenous Khoikhoi people nicknamed the pair of stars just before the end of the scorpion’s tail “xami di mura,” meaning “eyes of the lion.”

Fafnir

Constellation: Draco

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