“Eskimo Nebula” and “Siamese Twins Galaxy” are out, for example.
“Nicknames are often more approachable and public-friendly than official names for cosmic objects, such as Barnard 33, whose nickname ‘the Horsehead Nebula’ invokes its appearance,” NASA said in a release this week. “But often seemingly innocuous nicknames can be harmful and detract from the science.”
NASA is examining its use of phrases for planets, galaxies and other cosmic objects “as part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
The space agency says it “will use only the official, International Astronomical Union designations in cases where nicknames are inappropriate.”
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, DC, said, “Science is for everyone, and every facet of our work needs to reflect that value.”
“Siamese twins” is an antiquated expression for conjoined twins, based on brothers from Siam (now Thailand) who were used as sideshow freaks in the 19th century.