Political correctness reaches space: NASA bans cosmic names like Eskimo, Siamese

'Our goal is that all names are aligned with our values of diversity and inclusion,' space agency declares.

A NASA logo at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Getty Images
Updated: August 8, 2020 - 12:09am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The diversity and inclusion movement has left the galaxy, literally.

NASA this week announced it was banning the names Eskimo and Siamese for use in describing cosmic entities as part of an "ongoing reevaluation of the names by which we refer to astronomical objects."

"It has become clear that certain cosmic nicknames are not only insensitive, but can be actively harmful," the space agency declared. "NASA is examining its use of unofficial terminology for cosmic objects as part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion."

The first big names changes were announced Wednesday. 

A Sun-like star that is blowing off its outer layers at the end of its life that was previously known as the “Eskimo Nebula" will now just be known by its alphanumerical ID NGC 2392, NASA said.

“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," the agency's press release said.

Likewise, two spiral galaxies found in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster that previously were known as the Siamese Twins Galaxy will now simply be referred to as NGC4567 and NGC 4568, it added.

"These nicknames and terms may have historical or culture connotations that are objectionable or unwelcoming, and NASA is strongly committed to addressing them," said Stephen T. Shih, NASA's Associate Administrator for Diversity and Equal Opportunity. "Science depends on diverse contributions, and benefits everyone, so this means we must make it inclusive.” 

Just the News Spotlight