Why are stars and planets named with weird combinations of letters and numbers?


I was reading this article (https://www.vice.com/en/article/z34883/scie-discover-huge-extragalactic-structure-in-zone-of-avoidance) and it talks about how a new galaxy cluster is named “VVVGCl-B J181435-381432”

Does naming a galaxy cluster like this really help people in this field of study know what it is they’re talking about?

In: 24

There is such a massive amount of known and catalogued stars and planets that naming them with actual names is really kinda pointless in most cases. So they give them serial numbers, which can be looked up in a catalogue to see where it’s located etc.

There are way too many celestial bodies to give a “normal” name, though they can have those. It’s just much easier to describe what “part of the sky” the body is. Those codes are more of a coordinate than a name. Different orgs will use different naming conventions.

The most popular one, which is probably the one you saw, is the International Astronomical Union. It uses a combination of unique name/code, and coordinates.

Nebulae, Galaxies, and Other Objects
The designation of astronomical objects beyond the Solar System should consist of at least two parts — a leading acronym and a sequence value.
An acronym is a code specifying the catalogue or collection of sources, conforming to the following rules, among others:
It should consist of at least three characters (letters and/or numerals, avoiding special characters).
The acronym must be unique.
Acronyms should not be excessively long.
Sequence: a string of usually alpha-numerical characters that uniquely identify the source within the catalogue. Common values for the sequence are:
Running number.
Based on the coordinates of the object. Equatorial Coordinates shall always be preceded by J if they are for the standard equinox of J2000.0.l

Because there is a shit ton of them.

If we were to give them all a unique “normal” name it would take forever and be impossible to keep track of.

Instead we give them that string of numbers and letters, which corresponds to things like the area of the sky they are in, how bright they are, etc etc.

There are millions of things that we see in the night sky, we can’t give them all normal-sounding names, so we set a standard naming convention based on it’s discovery

The first set (VVVGC1-B) refers to the survey that discovered it. Here, the VVV survey, **G**eneral **C**atalog 1B was what recorded it

The second part refers to it’s sky location. J denotes the coordinate system (called J2000) and the numbers represent the center of the object in that coordinate system (right ascension of 18°14’35”, declination -38°14’32”)

So, using this naming convention, we not only have a pretty much unique naming system for anything we find, but also it tells some basic information about it as well

Because space is too big. There are trillions of galaxies, and hundreds of billions of stars per galaxy. Even if we only uniquely identify a tiny fraction, that’s still hundreds of millions of stars, and there are only about ten thousand astronomers. There are better things to spend time on than constantly thinking up names and checking if they’ve already been taken.

Some stars do have names though, especially the brightest ones in the sky, which have been known since antiquity. Another way a star could get named is if there’s something that makes it particularly interesting.