Five minor planets given Polish names

The names of the minor planets - Dudziński, Rożek, SławomirBreiter, Oauam (an acronym of the Polish name of the Astronomical Observatory of the Adam Mickiewicz University) and Jogaila (the Lithuanian name of Polish king Władysław Jagiełło), were approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

The IAU published the new names for small objects of the Solar System, mainly minor planets, in three WG Small Bodies Nomenclature Bulletins, which appeared in May and June.

The five new Polish planets have now joined a long list of already existing solar system objects. The first is (202093) Jogaila, given to the asteroid 2004 TP17, discovered on October 11, 2004. The name refers to the Lithuanian name of Władysław Jagiełło, Grand Duke of Lithuania (1377-1434) and King of Poland (1386-1434).

The remaining Polish names refer to contemporary times and the Astronomical Observatory Institute of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Western Poland. The observatory itself is among the names: the name of the object (97786) Oauam is one of the versions of the Polish institution's acronym name (OA UAM). The object, earlier designated 2000 NU2, was discovered on July 5, 2000. The Poznań observatory specialises in minor planet research.

The next three planetoids - Dudziński, Rożek, SławomirBreiter, bear the names of Poznań scientists specialising in research on small objects of the Solar System.

“I'm happy that so many Poznań astronomers (13 in total) have already been commemorated in the Solar System and I appreciate that the orbits of our planetoids are far from Earth. It would be strange to read headlines like: Will SławomirBreiter destroy our civilisation?”, Professor Sławomir Breiter, an employee of the Poznań Observatory for 35 years, joked.

The International Astronomical Union is the only authority that gives official names to astronomical objects and structures on their surfaces. It has developed a number of rules for naming objects.

In the case of minor planets, when the object's orbit is well known (usually following observations in at least four positions in the sky), the object receives a new number. Then, the discoverer has the right to propose a name within 10 years of giving the minor planet its number. The proposals are evaluated by the Working Group for Small Bodies Nomenclature, whose members are astronomers studying minor planets and comets. If the name meets the criteria, it can be accepted and added to the official list of names of astronomical objects.

22,568 minor planets currently have names, numbers have been assigned to 567132 objects, and more than a million such bodies are known.