|| IAU Division III
Committee on Small Body Nomenclature
Comité pour la nomenclature des petits corps
A Committee of IAU Division III
When a comet is discovered and confirmed, it is given a designation
reflecting the date of discovery of the comet. Prior to 1995,
the system of designations was different and comets discovered
earlier have multiple designations. Comets with orbital periods
shorter than 200 years are arbitrarily defined to be short-period
comets. When their orbits become very well determined, usually after
two passages through perihelion, they receive a permanent number as
a periodic comet. A general discussion of both the present and the
previous systems of designations for comets is available at the
Comets are generally named for their discoverers, with certain
guidelines about what constitutes a discovery and how many discoverers
may be named. While the guidelines may evolve, the CSBN attempts to
keep them reasonably stable. The CSBN and CBAT have published a
recent revision to the
summary guideline which describes the
current procedures. The older guidelines are linked from there.
Interactive web pages are available to look up most of the alternative
designations and names of a comet both at the
and at the
Bodies Node of NASA's Planetary Data System (SBN-PDS).
The CSBN, as part of new (spring 2000) terms of reference from the
IAU Executive Committee, is now preparing annual lists of names
assigned. These are available on-line, and are generally up to date
within a week or so of all naming actions or decisions not to name.
The final, formal approval of all names is made at the IAU General
Assembly (GA) by IAU Division III. The lists for 2000, 2001, and
2002 were formally approved at the GA in Sidney in August 2003.
The lists for 2003, 2004, and 2005 were considered and approved,
with no objections, at GA XXVI in Prague in August 2006.
I'm Tired and I Wanna Go Back to:
IAU Division III
Department of Astronomy
M. F. A'Hearn
The Real World
Created: 1997/9/9, mfa;
Last Update: Tuesday, 07-May-2013 09:01:14 EDT