Perthshire North MSP John Swinney is backing a campaign which could see an exoplanet named after the famous Perthshire Munro Schiehallion – ‘the centre of Scotland’.
Exoplanets are planets which orbit a star other than the sun and Schiehallion has been suggested by Ayrshire Astronomical Society as the new name for a planet currently known as ‘d’ which is in orbit around the star upsilon Andromedae, a star which is visible from Earth.
Planet ‘d’, which has a mass equivalent to 3239 Earths, is due to be named in a competition organised by the by the International Astronomical Union. The announcement on the results of the vote is expected in mid-November.
Schiehallion is often referred to as the centre of Scotland due to its midpoint location between the north, south, east and west extremities of the Scottish mainland. In 1774, Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne conducted an experiment on Schiehallion to estimate the mass of the Earth and in so doing invented contour lines used in mapping.
Commenting on the campaign John Swinney said:
“I have voted already for Schiehallion in this campaign and it seems to me to be by far the most attractive and appropriate name on the shortlist for this planet.
“Schiehallion holds a special place in the development of our understanding of space and the planets so it seems a fitting tribute for what is in any event an exceptional Scottish landmark.
“I encourage people to visit nameexoworlds.iau.org/systems/108 and scroll down to the third last group of names, which will include Schiehallion against planet ‘d’, and click vote.”
Assistant to John Swinney MSP
Perthshire North Constituency Office
35 Perth Street
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