Irish onomast received Fulbright Award to research and teach in the US

Irish Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development Ciarán Cannon T.D. has announced the 2020-2021 cohort of Fulbright Irish Awardees at an online celebration on June 11 2020. At a time when international education programmes face huge challenges, the enduring Fulbright Programme will support 36 remarkable academics, professionals and students to go to the USA and collaborate with their US counterparts. Among others, you may meet Brian Ó Doibhlin.

He is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University and NUI Galway. Brian is currently a third year PhD student researching with the Northern Ireland Place-Name Project based in Queen’s, where he is also a Teaching Assistant at undergraduate level. His current research relates primarily to uncovering the origin of townland-names within a certain geographical area. His research interests include Celtic languages, onomastics, translation, and the early-modern period in Ireland. As a Fulbright FLTA, he will teach the Irish language and take classes at the University of Notre Dame.

11 million names to be sent to Mars on NASA’s Perseverance rover

When it heads to the red planet later this year, NASA’s Perseverance rover won’t just be carrying scientific instruments — it will also carry the names of millions of space fans.

Last year, NASA launched its “Send Your Name to Mars” campaign in which members of the public were invited to submit their names to stenciled onto the rover. A tremendous 10.9 million people submitted their names, which have now been engraved onto silicon chips in a minuscule format using an electron beam. These chips, engraved with both names and winning essays from the “Name the Rover” contest, have now been attached to an aluminum plate on the rover which will launch on its journey to Mars later this year.

McGill BA student receives American Name Society’s Emerging Scholar Award

Congratulations to McGill BA student, Marielle Côté-Gendreau, who was recently awarded the American Name Society Emerging Scholar Award, which recognizes “outstanding scholarship of a names researcher in the early stages of his/her academic or professional career”. She received the award for her submitted article “Tracking Napoleon, his name and his myth in 19th century French Canada: Sociodemographic regard on a revealing naming pattern“, at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Name Society, which meets concurrently with the Linguistics Society of America, last week in New Orleans. Congratulations Marielle!

First exoplanet found by Chinese astronomers named after moon goddess

The first exoplanet discovered by Chinese astronomers and its host star have been named “Wangshu” and “Xihe,” which mean moon goddess and sun goddess respectively in Chinese mythology. The two names proposed by the student astronomy club of Guangzhou No. 6 Middle School were announced at the Beijing Planetarium, which is a part of the NameExoWorlds campaign organized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Discovered by Chinese astronomers in 2008, Wangshu is about 440 light-years away from Earth in Lyra, orbiting Xihe, which is sufficiently bright to be observed through telescopes from China.


Within the framework of the IAU’s 100th anniversary commemorations in 2019, 112 countries and regions organized campaigns that stimulated the direct participation of over 780,000 people worldwide, who proposed and selected names for each exoplanet and its host star.

NASA Names Most Distant Object Ever Explored ‘Arrokoth,’ the Powhatan Word for Sky

Last January, NASA’s New Horizons probe flew past an icy space rock designated nearly four billion miles beyond Pluto. The rock, dubbed 2014 MU69, is the most distant cosmic body ever surveyed by a human spacecraft. At the time, the team nicknamed the object Ultima Thule after a mythical northern land beyond the borders of the known world. But the name didn’t stick due to its usage in Nazi ideology.

This week, NASA announced that the official name for 2014 MU69 will be Arrokoth, which is the word for “sky” in the Powhatan and Algonquian languages. The name was bestowed with the consent of tribal elders and representatives. “The name ‘Arrokoth’ reflects the inspiration of looking to the skies and wondering about the stars and worlds beyond our own,” planetary scientist Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator, says in a statement.

Americans, we can name an exoplanet!


The International Astronomical Union (IAU) invites you to help name an exoplanet and its star.

A national committee for the US naming event has been specially created by the National Outreach Coordinators to carry out the campaign at the national level. The national committee strictly follows the methodology and guidelines set up by the IAU100 NameExoWorlds Steering Committee and is responsible for providing the conditions for public participation, disseminating the project in the country and establishing a voting system.

The US Exoplanet Naming Campaign collected names from September 15 – October 15, 2019. The US National Committee received hundreds of proposals. A group of 40 amateur and professional astronomers, teachers and students will identify 10 proposals that will be voted on by the US public. This list of 10 semi-finalists will be made public and available for public voting on November 1st, 2019. Public voting will be open until November 14, 2019. The top three selected by US voters will be submitted by November 15 to the IAU100 NameExoworlds Steering Committee for the final choice. The final result will be announced by the IAU the week of December 16 – 21, 2019.

The Helsinki Scientific Award was granted to name researcher

The City of Helsinki Scientific Award in 2019 was granted to Finnish onomatologist Terhi Ainiala, professor of Finnish language specialising in onomastics at the University of Helsinki. Sie is a versatile onomastic researcher and is familiar with both place names and personal names. Her socio-onomastic research is particularly related to the informal #toponyms of cities such as Helsinki and the social identity of speakers.

The Helsinki City Scientific Award is granted as recognition for important scientific work carried out in Helsinki or by an academic with a background in Helsinki. The Scientific Award is EUR 10,000. The awards were presented at the Helsinki Day ceremony held on 12 June 2019.

Female street names wanted in Brussels

The City of Brussels joins the call for more ‘women in the streets’. The inhabitants of Brussels can suggest female heroes who deserve a place in the public space, but they can also propose places, squares and parks that do not yet have a name.


The rules are simple:

  • the person may no longer be alive
  • the proposal must be submitted by the City to the Royal Commission for Toponymy and Dialectology



All proposals are welcome on the:

Facebook page of the City of Brussels (in French)
Facebook page of the City of Brussels (in Dutch)

Help Name the Fatberg in London!

Have you heard about the “fatberg”? It’s a 140-ton mix of fat, oil, diapers and baby wipes clogging up the London sewers. Fatbergs are created by residents and businesses flushing and pouring things they’re not supposed to down the drain, like cooking oils and wipes. Back in 2013, Thames Water faced its biggest fatberg ever recorded in Britain, a bus-sized 15-ton glob. This latest fatberg blows that one out of the sewer. Thames Water notes the current monster is heavier than four humpback whales.

The utility company Thames Water is asking for the public’s help in naming it:

Read more at this CNET article, and submit your names suggestions via Twitter!



Naming Contest: Victorians called to name new Melbourne railway stations

Victorian Government

Victorians have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make their mark on Melbourne by naming the metro tunnel’s new underground rail stations. The Victorian Government will make a decision on the five station names after considering a shortlist compiled by an Advisory Panel.

The stations, which will be built under Melbourne’s inner city, have the current working titles of Arden, Parkville, CBD North, CBD South, and Domain. Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the names can reflect the area’s local character and their local history, but they can’t be names that will cause confusion for emergency services in responding, and they can’t duplicate another landmark nearby.

The naming competition is open until October 22.