to the First Edition

In the history of natural sciences it is a common procedure to give any newly detected object an individual proper name. But the increase of similar objects in the course of time makes it more and more difficult to choose adequate proper names. So any new object is given an individual number. This system, however, will soon cause confusion and even provoke mistakes. To prevent this, it is best to combine both the name and the number of an object, thus getting a sufficient redundancy no matter how many objects there may be. This system has been realized in an exemplary manner in the assignment of names to the minor planets.

It was the first night of the 19th century when Giuseppe Piazzi established a new era in the exploration of the Solar System. His discovery proved the existence of a body between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter which had been expected for a long time. The naming of this body, however, caused the first controversies. During the second half of the last century the number of discoveries grew dramatically. The naming or the assigning of a special sign as had been done in the beginning could no longer be continued. The practice was started to add an ordinal number to the planets related to the dates of their discovery. However, this procedure was to fail as well, because more and more discoveries were made. Numbers had to be corrected subsequently, and there were fierce arguments about some of the names proposed by the discoverers. The honor of science seemed to be endangered. The violent discussion about the assignment of names did decrease with the exorbitant increase in discoveries, but on the other hand the amount of numbered yet unnamed objects grew rapidly. Great confusion was to come.

The necessity of assigning an adequate name became as apparent as the request for a short explanation of its origin. Not very often could one learn from literature who should be honored and for what reason. After the end of World War II, Antonio Paluzie-Borrell, a librarian from Barcelona and General Secretary of the "Sociedad Astronomico de Espana y America", started a first investigation on the origin of some of the names of the first 1650 numbered planets. It is entirely owing to Paul Herget, however, that after the foundation of the Minor Planet Center at the Cincinnati Observatory he demanded of the discoverer that the assignment of each name should be accompanied by an explanation of its meaning. He also suggested that a compilation should be prepared which would indicate the meanings of the names which had already been assigned in the past. A first short list was published in 1955, a more explicit one in 1968. The first newly numbered minor planet after the interruption of World War II was (1565). Since then all newly assigned names have been more or less appropriately described in the Minor Planet Circulars along with their announcement. Herget's successor Brian G. Marsden has strived in an unprecedented manner to meet this demand. His work, based in part on some resolutions of IAU Commission 20, became more and more complex with the constantly growing flood of proposals for naming.

During the XXth IAU General Assembly in 1988 in Baltimore, U.S.A., Edward Bowell (chairman 1988/89) and some other colleagues suggested the establishment of a "Study Group on the Origin of Minor Planet Names", with the aim of thus not only obtaining a database containing the names of all numbered planets, but also, and in particular, of learning about the meaning of many names from the early beginnings of our science. Members of the Study Group (1988-1991) were

L. K. Kristensen, Aarhus (Denmark)

L. D. Schmadel, Heidelberg (Germany), chairman

K. Tomita, Tokyo (Japan)

I. van Houten-Groeneveld, Leiden (The Netherlands)

I want to express my deepest appreciation to Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld, who has worked for decades on the nomenclature of minor planets, for the many months she spent going over many entries in this compilation.

Some other colleagues and amateur astronomers contributed to this work or served as Consultants to the Study Group:

C. M. Bardwell, Cambridge, MA (U.S.A.) R. L. Branham Jr., Mendoza (Argentina) R. Bremer, St. Charles, MO (U.S.A.) N. S. Chernykh, Nauchnyj (U.S.S.R.) M.-A. Combes, Paris (France) C. J. Cunningham, Kitchener, ON (Canada) J. B. Gibson, Pasadena, CA (U.S.A.) E. Goffin, Hoboken (Belgium) J. U. Gunther, Durham, NC (U.S.A.) A. W. Harris, Pasadena, CA (U.S.A.) Z. KneZevic, Belgrade (Yugoslavia) J. Meeus, Erps-Kwerps (Belgium)

A. Schnell, Vienna (Austria)

I am grateful to all colleagues who supported this project by manifold advice and investigations. I would also like to thank my colleague Gernot Burkhardt who helped to realize this work by complex and time-consuming programming in TEX.

It is my special pleasure to thank Richard M. West, 1988-1991 President of Commission 20, for his encouragement throughout the project. I am deeply indebted to the past General Secretary Derek McNally for the financial support of this book by the IAU.

Heidelberg, December 1991

Lutz D. Schmadel

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