2018 VG18 was discovered at approximately 120 AU (astronomical units) from the Sun. News reports say it is the furthest known object in the solar system for now.  And its nickname holds an important lesson for scientists when it comes to communicating about their discoveries.

Give careful consideration to what you call things.  Technical names may be important to your record keeping, but interesting and meaningful names will do far more to get your discoveries noticed and remembered.

Why Farout is a Great Name

Kudos to the team led by Scott S. Sheppard from Carnegie University, Chad Trujillo of Northern Arizona University, and David Tholen from the University of Hawaii for nicknaming their discovery Farout.  As a name, Farout describes a distinguishing attribute of the discovery. The literal meaning works well as a descriptor of its location. Cambridge dictionary defines far-out as strange and unusual which is also fitting.

A great name is descriptive. It draws attention to an important attribute or an overarching benefit. Great names also work when they are symbolic and evoke a relevant concept that is already understood.

Finding a great name takes some thought and gives you an opportunity to get creative.  Bring your team together over a beer or two and generate a list.  Pull out the Thesaurus if you need some inspiration.  Once you have a name test it out and see how it lands.

The lesson for scientists is to take time to think about how you name things. Names stick.  Well chosen, names can help you get more attention and build a bridge to understanding your science.