IAU Logo IAU Division III

Committee on Small Body Nomenclature

Comité pour la nomenclature des petits corps célestes

A Committee of IAU Division III


Previous Guidelines for Cometary Names

These guidelines were in place prior to March 2003, at which time the CSBN approved newer guidelines, now available at this page.


All cometary names are subject to the approval of the Committee for Small Body Nomenclature (CSBN), a working group of IAU Division III, in consultation with the IAU Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT). The following guidelines are the ones that the committee is using in late 1998. The philosophical basis behind the guidelines is to honor discoverers of comets while achieving fairness to the different individuals involved and maintaining reasonable simplicity in both the names themselves and in the procedures. The CSBN can modify these guidelines as it sees fit or decide not to name a particular comet if this seems the best way to achieve the philosophical goals. Deliberations within the CSBN take varying amounts of time. Sometimes a proposed name is almost immediately agreed upon but in other cases, particularly when the full circumstances of a discovery are not communicated immediately to the CBAT, it takes weeks to agree upon a name.

Basic Guidelines

Supplementary Discussion and Special Cases

Some additional explanation regarding special cases is appropriate and the following supplementary remarks may make the work of the SBNC more clear.

Michael F. A'Hearn
for the CSBN
October 1998


Name Lists

Recognizing that the IAU Executive Committee has approved new terms of reference for the CSBN, including the new name (it was Small Bodies Names Committee prior to action by the EC in February 2000), we are now posting annual lists of names assigned. The lists include references to the place in which the name was first announced and a very brief mention of any unusual circumstances surrounding the discovery. The lists may also include newly discovered comets that are deliberately not named.


I'm Tired and I Wanna Go Back to:

IAU .............. IAU Division III ............. IAU CSBN

Department of Astronomy ............. M. F. A'Hearn ............. The Real World

Created: 1998/10/22, mfa; Last Update: Thursday, 12-Jun-2003 18:39:51 EDT