It’s all in a name but apparently, in the age of political correctness (PC), it is the best interest of everybody to practice cultural, historical, and socio-economic considerations in one’s actions – to avoid insulting, excluding a marginalized group of people or community.
This includes dropping the traditional connotations attributed to a certain group of people based on their gender, race, and political beliefs. With the latest wave of PC in the 21st century, people are becoming more sensitive towards how these groups would feel if the very fabric of their identities is turned into the punchline of the joke, or worse, ridiculed which turns to hatred and violence.
That is why the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is reportedly planning to drop its practice of using ‘offensive’ token nicknames of several heavenly bodies in space.
In an official press release of the space agency, it has reiterated its commitment to address the issue head-on.
Up to this day, scientists and specialists in the agency gave heavenly bodies that they have discovered nicknames to rouse public awareness as well as make sure that it will not be easy to forget. For instance, an official name of a cosmic object, let’s say the Barnard 33 has a nickname known as the ‘Horsehead Nebula’ – an homage to its appearance. For context, the official names of every cosmic figure discovered by NASA are assigned by the International Astronomical Union.
To make true to its word, the space agency is dropping the nicknames of two of its widely-known celestial bodies. The planetary nebula officially known as NGC 2392 will not be using its nickname as the ‘Eskimo Nebula’. NASA will also stop referring to the NGC 4567 and NGC 4568 as the ‘Siamese Twins Galaxy’. This is in lieu of the negative connotations attached to those names on the indigenous peoples and country involved.
In case that nicknames are deemed inappropriate and disrespectful, the agency will just resort in using the cosmic object’s official name.
In the same press release, Stephen T. Shih, the Associate Administrator for Diversity and Equal Opportunity at NASA, addressed that the terms used ‘have historical and cultural connotations that are objectionable or unwelcoming’ and stressed the agency’s commitment to addressing them.
“Science depends on diverse contributions and benefits everyone, so this means we must make it inclusive,” they added.