Earth, Mars, Neptune – how hard can it possibly be to name a planet?

Now’s your chance to find out.

A company called Uwingu which aims to raise funds for space exploration is holding a contest to name a planet that currently goes by the rather sci-fi-sounding moniker Alpha Centauri Bb.

Because Alpha Centauri Bb, which is the closest planet to Earth at a mere 4.3 light years away, sounds like a cross between something out of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and the periodic table of elements, Uwingu wants the public to help give a name with some more pizazz:

Alpha Centauri Bb is a fine designation for us astronomers, but let's face it -- it's a little boring. Let's see what the people of planet Earth would want to name their nearest planetary cousin.”

If you have a name that you think warrants serious consideration, it will cost you $4.99 to submit it. Conversely, if you’d like to vote for your favorite among those already in the mix, it’ll cost you 99 cents.

The contest runs through April 15, which means you can throw your hat into the ring right after you finish your taxes.

As if being responsible for naming an entire planet all by your lonesome isn’t reward enough, the winning entrant will also receive some other prizes that would have the characters in ‘The Big Bang Theory’ drooling. The prizes include a call from Uwingu’s CEO, a plaque which pays tribute to the contest’s winner, a 12-month subscription to Astronomy magazine and a picture of the winner on Uwingu’s website.

Here’s hoping the winner is not a Hollywood star – the idea of a planet called Apple, Moxie CrimeFighter or Zuma would make the planet the laughingstock of the universe and rack up huge therapy bills while it deals with its low self-esteem.

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