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Now that it is a really special comet, and every one is talking about it, why doesn't it get a name, instead of just a number?

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  • $\begingroup$ Would this possibly be a better fit over on our brother stack-exchange site astronomy.stackexchange.com ? $\endgroup$ – Everyone Aug 10 '14 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ I didn't know the other existed, but this question was clearly triggered by recent events in space exploration, and the sense of it is more exploration than astronomy: I wasn't so interested in what the astronomers call it, as to what the explorers might call it now that it has public attention due to the exploration (rather than the astronomy). $\endgroup$ – GreenAsJade Aug 11 '14 at 2:17
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In fact there is a better name for 67P, which is 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. It was named after the two people who helped discover it in 1969.

Churyumov identified 67P while studying photographs of Comet 32P/Comas Solá, taken by Gerasimenko.

FYI, the official comet naming convention can be found at the IAU website. They give the comet the name based on the information they have on the discoverers. Wikipedia also has great information on naming comets.

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  • $\begingroup$ Heh - that's good to know. I guess there's no mechansim for it to get a "popular" name? $\endgroup$ – GreenAsJade Aug 7 '14 at 10:58
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    $\begingroup$ Wikipedia says it was discovered in 1969. 67 means it was the 67th comet discovered (or at least listed according to some system) out of over 5000 today. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Aug 7 '14 at 11:20
  • $\begingroup$ @GreenAsJade I would say that the "popularity" of the name is directly relate to the pronouncability of it by the population that you are considering; compare it with Halley, Hale-Bopp or Shoemaker-Levy: still the names of the people discovering/studying them, but popular because can be rembered by the average english-speaking/western person. $\endgroup$ – Federico Aug 7 '14 at 11:37
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    $\begingroup$ @GreenAsJade: You can always just say "Chury" just like everybody else.. :) $\endgroup$ – SAnderka Aug 7 '14 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ @LocalFluff: Reading Wikipedia,the 67 means that it was the 67th comet which had two observed perihelion passes. I believe the P stands for periodic. But I've made the appropriate changes, thanks for the correction. $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Aug 7 '14 at 12:44

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