Does the “Milky Way” call to mind the insidious spread of white supremacy? Perhaps we will soon find out, because NASA announced this week that they are going to initiate a review of common cosmic nicknames that may be offensive or racist in the light of our collective wokeness.
“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,” the agency said Wednesday. “NASA is examining its use of unofficial terminology for cosmic objects as part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Yeah. Like, how is the “Red Planet” okay if the Redskins aren’t!?
NASA’s statement continued:
NASA will no longer refer to planetary nebula NGC 2392, the glowing remains of a Sun-like star that is blowing off its outer layers at the end of its life, as the “Eskimo Nebula.” “Eskimo” is widely viewed as a colonial term with a racist history, imposed on the indigenous people of Arctic regions. Most official documents have moved away from its use. NASA will also no longer use the term “Siamese Twins Galaxy” to refer to NGC 4567 and NGC 4568, a pair of spiral galaxies found in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. Moving forward, NASA will use only the official, International Astronomical Union designations in cases where nicknames are inappropriate.
There was no word on Wednesday on whether or not the “Aunt Jemima Black Hole” will be allowed to stay as is.
NASA said that getting rid of these names will allow the agency to focus more narrowly on pushing science forward.
“Often seemingly innocuous nicknames can be harmful and detract from the science,” the agency said.
Well, something is certainly detracting from the science, but we’d argue that it’s this incessant hunt for “problematic” crap and not the nicknames themselves.
“I support our ongoing reevaluation of the names by which we refer to astronomical objects,” NASA associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said. “Our goal is that all names are aligned with our values of diversity and inclusion, and we’ll proactively work with the scientific community to help ensure that. Science is for everyone, and every facet of our work needs to reflect that value.”
We’re sure to find out in a few months that scientists have discovered that Ursa Major is a transgender bear. Clown World turns into Clown Galaxy.
No amount of eyerolling is sufficient.