The 10 lamest deep-sky object names
Posted by Michael Bakich on Friday, June 20, 2014 Astronomy Magazine. And here the are:
#1: M99 — St. Catherine’s WheelI’ve saved the best (worst?) for last. I don’t know who gave the magnificent spiral galaxy M99 this name, but this isn’t the kind of mental picture I want to bring to the eyepiece. Named after the Christian martyr St. Catherine of Alexandria, the wheel was a medieval torture device used to break the bones of anyone placed upon it. Lame. Beyond lame. Lame squared.
#2: NGC 6907 — The Giant Behemoth GalaxyI’m about to come clean. I’m not immune to the lure of tossing a tag at a deep-sky object and seeing if it sticks. I’ve done it several times, but perhaps the weakest attempt was in the case of NGC 6907. I think it looks like the prehistoric monster that terrorized England in the 1959 movie of the same name. And what rhymes with “same” and “name”? Yep. “Lame.”
#3: NGC 1502 — The Jolly Roger ClusterThis is such a beautiful open cluster. It deserves a cool name. “Jolly Roger,” unfortunately, isn’t it. I mean, has anyone looked at this object and genuinely imagined a pirate flag made of a skull and crossed bones? How about if we call it the Fresh Salad Cluster instead? Yeah, I like that.
#4: NGC 7008 — The Fetus NebulaYuck! This planetary nebula in Cygnus got its creepy appellation in 2001 from an observation an amateur astronomer made through a 22-inch telescope. Now that’s a level of detail I’m not sure I’m after when I put eye to eyepiece. Astronomy Contributing Editor Stephen James O’Meara — probably appalled by the moniker — later christened it the Coat Button Nebula. Still lame, I’ll grant you, but a lot less creepy!
#6: NGC 7331 and friends — The Deer Lick GroupBack in the 1980s, an amateur astronomer had a memorable observation of this group of galaxies in Pegasus from the Deer Lick Gap in North Carolina. Hmm. I’m glad I never named any deep-sky objects during telescope sessions as a teenager at the Weirton Dump in upstate West Virginia.
#8: NGC 7026 — The Cheeseburger NebulaNot all amateur astronomers are fat. In my experience, however, most subsist on diets that starving children in third-world countries would refuse. Yet here comes the Cheeseburger Nebula. Yikes. I think I’ll find a bright group of stars and name it the Fresh Salad Cluster, just to offer a little yin to the Cheeseburger’s yang.
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