Planet Earth
International Astronomical Union WGSN

Terms of Reference

Original declaration

The following is an abbreviated summary of the terms of reference for the Division C IAU Working Group on Star Names approved by the IAU Executive Committee at the EC98 meeting 6 May 2016 for period 2016-2018.

The Working Group on Star Names (WGSN) will consist of an international group of astronomers with expertise in stellar astronomy, astronomical history, and cultural astronomy. The group will catalog and standardize proper names for stars for the international astronomical community. Names will first be drawn upon the extensive historical and world-wide cultural astronomy literature. The WGSN will:

  • establish IAU guidelines for the proposal and adoption of names for stars,
  • carry out an exhaustive search of the international astronomical history and astronomical culture literature for candidate star names,
  • drawing upon the historical and cultural literature, adopt new unique names for stars of scientific and historical value for community use following agreed upon guidelines,
  • assemble, maintain, publish, and disseminate an official IAU star name catalog (“IAU-SNC”) of names for stars and exoplanets (including updating the information about the naming of stars on and posting the IAU-SNC on,

The first triennium will focus on incorporating “past” names (from astronomical history and culture) into modern usage, and it is anticipated that in future triennia the WGSN would act as the IAU WG responsible for defining the rules and enabling the process by which new names for stars and substellar objects of scientific significance can be proposed by members of the international astronomical community.

The naming purview for the WGSN will specifically be for starssubstellar objects, and stellar remnants, and specifically excludes exoplanets (purview of EC WG Public Naming of Planets and the Planetary Systems), interstellar medium features (nebulae), and extragalactic objects. Exoplanet names will be catalogued as well so as to avoid duplication with star names.