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NASA Will Drop ‘Racist’ Nicknames Used For Space Objects
By Thanussha Priyah, 07 Aug 2020
Image via Shutterstock
NASA has been giving nicknames to faraway cosmic objects, including galaxies and nebulae. Unfortunately, some of these monikers could be deemed as derogative.
The space agency has announced that it will be addressing and reviewing inappropriate labels to steer away from racist connotations.
“As the scientific community works to identify and address systemic discrimination and inequality in all aspects of the field, it has become clear that certain cosmic nicknames are not only insensitive, but can be actively harmful,” NASA wrote in a statement.
As a start, NASA will stop using the name “Eskimo Nebula” for planetary nebula NGC 2392, as “Eskimo” is described as “a colonial term with a racist history imposed on the indigenous people of Arctic regions.”
The “Siamese Twins Galaxy,” a pair of spiral galaxies in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster, will now be referred to their official astronomical titles, NGC 4567 and NGC 4568.
The expression “Siamese twins” gained popularity when Siamese-American conjoined twins, Chang and Eng Bunker, were displayed as an exhibit in the 1880s. The phrase was also used in a racist manner in the Disney film, Lady and the Tramp.
NASA will now move forward by using “only the official International Astronomical Union designations in cases where nicknames are inappropriate.”
NASA to Reexamine Nicknames for Cosmic Objects https://t.co/KnhWtvfLmx— Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge (@cambridge_astro) August 7, 2020
[via Mashable, cover image via Shutterstock]
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