IAU Logo IAU Division III

Committee on Small Body Nomenclature

Comité pour la nomenclature des petits corps célestes

A Committee of IAU Division III


The Committee for Small Body Nomenclature (Small Bodies Names Committee prior to February 2000) has responsibility, under the authority of the IAU, for the names of the small bodies (except satellites of the major planets) in the solar system. The actual naming is administered, under the guidance of the committee, by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) and the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT). The committee also has the responsibility for the designations of these bodies. The committee originated as an ad hoc advisory committee appointed by the director of the Minor Planet Center. It subsequently became formalized, reporting first to Commission 20 and then to Division III, after creation of the divisions, in 1997. The detailed Terms of Reference as approved by the IAU Executive Committee in 2000 are available.

The Committee

The members of the committee for the 2006-2009 triennium are
Chair: Jana Tichá (EU - Czech Republic)
Div III Rep: Edward L. G. Bowell (USA)
MPC Rep: Brian G. Marsden (USA), secretary
CBAT Rep: Daniel Green (USA), participates for comet names only
WGPSN Rep: Rita Schulz (EU - Netherlands)
Regular Members: Michael F. A'Hearn (USA), Julio Fernández (Uruguay), Pam Kilmartin (New Zealand), Daniela Lazzaro (Brazil), Syuichi Nakano (Japan), Keith Noll (USA), Lutz Schmadel (EU - Germany, editor of DMP), Viktor Shor (Russia), Gareth Williams (USA), Donald K. Yeomans (USA), Jin Zhu (China)

General communications to the committee should normally be addressed to the chair and secretary.

Naming Small Bodies

The committee welcomes questions or suggestions about its procedures or suggestions of specific names for certain objects. However, neither the CSBN nor the IAU nor either the CBAT or MPC sells names of comets or asteroids to the public. This derives from the general policy of the IAU on selling names for celestial bodies which you can read at the IAU web site. The CBAT and the MPC do sometimes name comets or asteroids for people, but only under certain, well-defined guidelines, as linked below.

More information:

Interactive web pages are available to look up most of the alternative designations and names of an object at the CBAT for comets and at the MPC for minor planets. Another cross-reference, combining comets and minor planets together, but not having a complete listing of all the preliminary designations of minor planets, is available at the Small Bodies Node (SBN) of the Planetary Data System.

Committee Records

Previous membership lists (back to 1991) are available here.

A brief summary of the meeting at GA XXVI in Prague is available here.

The reports for the Transactions of the IAU for the last few triennia are available here:
Vol XXVI A (2006),
Vol XXV A (2003),
Vol XXIV A (2000).


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Created: 1997/9/9, mfa; Last Updated: Thursday, 03-Sep-2009 10:52:32 EDT