iau2406 — Press Release

‘Name a Quasi-Moon!’ Contest Banner
31 May 2024
Competition Announced to Name a Quasi-Moon
The International Astronomical Union and Radiolab invite everyone across the world to participate in naming campaign

The International Astronomical Union and WNYC’s award-winning science podcast, Radiolab, invite people worldwide to take the unique opportunity to suggest a name for one of Earth's quasi-moons. Submissions are open until 30 September and the winning name will receive official recognition by the IAU.

For millennia, people across the globe have built deep connections to objects in the night sky, assigning them names and stories imbued with their cultural heritage and understanding of the world. Naming campaigns highlight these connections and provide the global public with a chance to have their creativity embedded in the cosmos.

Earlier this year, Latif Nasser, co-host of the science podcast Radiolab, petitioned the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to name a quasi-moon of Venus after noticing a typo on a map of the Solar System. The saga was documented on a Radiolab episode and tweet thread from Nasser that went viral, opening the door for listeners to learn more about this fascinating class of objects. The episode established a connection between the IAU and Radiolab, which is produced by WNYC Studios [1]. The organisations have now teamed up to invite a global audience to engage with this field of astronomy through a new naming contest for one of Earth’s quasi-moons.

Quasi-moons of a planet are asteroids that orbit the Sun and follow a path similar to that of the planet. Due to the relative motion of the two objects, it appears as though the asteroid is orbiting the planet from the perspective of an observer on the planet’s surface. If a quasi-moon is near the Earth, it might seem as if we have a new moon, even though it is hardly affected by the Earth's gravitational pull.

By taking part in “Name a Quasi-Moon!”, people worldwide will have the chance to leave their mark on our sky with official recognition from the world’s authority responsible for assigning names to objects in our Solar System and beyond. By involving the IAU’s wide international network, the collaboration will reach new audiences, ensuring our sky will be more representative of the world’s diverse ideas, cultures, perspectives, and ways of knowing.

“We’re excited to bring people together around something that unites us across timezones, national borders, languages, and all manner of differences – our shared sky,” said Latif Nasser, co-host of Radiolab. “I had so much fun helping to name Venus’s quasi-moon Zoozve that I wanted the whole world to get that same chance. This time, it’s for a quasi-moon of Earth – one of ours!! I can’t wait to hear the names people come up with for our weirdo rockstar neighbour, and, even more important, engage a global audience in the joy and wonder of science!”

The contest will take place in four phases:

  • 1 June - 30 September: People everywhere can submit a name and short description (called a citation) for consideration via the competition website
  • October: A panel of Radiolab staff, IAU members, and special guest consultants will select 10 finalists.
  • Early November: Radiolab and the IAU will release the shortlisted names and host a popular vote until the end of December to decide the winning name. 
  • Mid-January 2025: The winning name will be officially announced in the Bulletin of the IAU Working Group for Small Body Nomenclature (WGSBN).

The 10 finalist names will be selected based on their adherence to the naming convention set by the WGSBN, the name’s creativity and uniqueness, and its relevance to the science of quasi-moons, as described in the accompanying citation. For more details, please refer to the contest rules.

“Naming campaigns such as these draw in the public to examine how science relates to their cultural context,” says Gareth Williams, Secretary of the WGSBN. “Moreover, this collaboration affords us an international stage to discuss asteroids, the class of objects to which quasi-moons belong. As astronomers, it’s our responsibility to engage the public with this branch of science, to explain their role in our Solar System and combat misinformation.”


[1] WNYC is a non-profit, non-commercial public media organisation based in the US.

More information

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 12 000 active professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.

With an urban vibrancy and a global perspective, WNYC is New York’s public radio station, broadcasting and streaming award-winning journalism, groundbreaking audio programming and essential talk radio to the city and beyond. WNYC is a leading member station of NPR and broadcasts programs from the BBC World Service, along with a roster of WNYC-produced local programs that champion the stories and spirit of New York City and the surrounding region. From its state-of-the-art studios, WNYC is reshaping audio for a new generation of listeners, producing some of the most beloved nationally-syndicated public radio programs including Radiolab, On the Media, The New Yorker Radio Hour, and Notes from America, as well as the local radio shows and podcasts The Brian Lehrer Show and All of It with Alison Stewart. WNYC broadcasts on 93.9 FM and AM 820 to listeners in New York and the tri-state area, and is available to audiences everywhere at WNYC.org, the WNYC app and through major digital radio services, all made possible through the generous support of our members, donors and sponsors.



Kelly Blumenthal
IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach Director
Email: blumenthal.kelly@oao.iau.org

Gareth V. Williams
Secretary of Executive Committee WG Small Bodies Nomenclature (SBN)
Email: iau.wgsbn@gmail.com

Lina Canas
IAU Membership Coordinator
Email: lina.canas@iau.org / iaupressoffice@iau.org

Guido Schwarz
IAU Press Officer
Email: iaupressoffice@iau.org


‘Name a Quasi-Moon!’ Contest Banner