Oumuamua? Someone actually named an interstellar rock THAT?

The title says it all.  I’m a pretty reasonable guy. And I love astronomy. But when I visit a news site and read about this amazing rocky body that acts more like a spacecraft than a rock I expect that object to get a name I can pronounce.

Artists rendition of the Unpronounceable “Oumuamua” named object – named 1I/2017 U1 which is at least somewhat easier to say…

I was expecting something catchy. “Star Tramp One”, “Death Needle” or perhaps “Wonkanator”. But NOT “Oumuamua”!

It’s a trend in the world of academia to embrace non-western names for things and I guess someone who had a few too many one night at the University had time to say this after a drunken night out on the town. And the name stuck and most of us immediately forgot it.

My first words, in the spirit of James T. Kirk, on hearing the name were “What Is That?”

So when this amazing rocky? structure was named “Oumuamua” which is Hawaiian for “a messenger from afar arriving first”, I kind of squint funny at the name and say to myself “How in the heck do I pronounce this?” And when I tried… Well… I ended up like “Ace Ventura” in a special home and it took months of therapy to recover from the damage…

It’s reasonable to ask. Truly it is. No disrespect to Hawaii and it’s native tongue, but how can you expect the rest of the world to say this without being tongue-tied? Now before you throw a shoe at me, let’s figure out how to say “Oumuamua”.  You have to say “oh-MOO-ah-MOO-ah” – No… I am not kidding. Try it yourself.

If you survived speaking this, I would bet that slightly more than 80% of you agree with me that this name just isn’t doing the object from interstellar space any justice and most certainly isn’t making your vocal cords safe to use after trying to pronounce the name.

Could it be a spacecraft? There is certainly a good chance it may be a dead or sleeping ship…

This object is about 754 feet long by 115 feet wide and is a metal rich and dense structure. Some early conjecture felt it might actually be a spacecraft while others feel it is a rocky body ejected from a solar system far outside our own.

It’s behavior is that which would be expected for a spacecraft that was using our Sun for a close approach and gravity slingshot boost to it’s next destination, hence the buzz among the UFO and Alien Life crowds. Personally, I wish it was a spacecraft and there is a small chance that this is indeed what it is. But we will never truly know and I prefer to hold onto the spacecraft idea just to be obstinate despite the odds being against it.

A view inside the spacecraft “Rama” from the book Rendezvous With Rama” by Arthur C. Clarke – Image attribution: By Monomorphic at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Back to the name. A perfectly good alternate was “Rama”, after the famous story “Rendezvous With Rama” by Arthur C. Clarke of just such an object entering our solar system in such an orbit as this object has and, despite all common sense, the team that made the choice went for the nearly unpronounceable and eminently forgettable “ʻOumuamua”. My emotions boiled over at the injustice of it all, similar to the fashion in which Spock reacted to Kirk’s death in “Beyond Darkness”.

So… I’ve found an alternate name for my favorite spacecraft rock as it heads out of our solar system.  I’m going to refuse to use “ʻOumuamua” and call this ship”Top Rama”. At least it is memorable and doesn’t hurt my throat when I try to say it.

And if anyone is on board… Godspeed on your voyage and may the next intelligent world you visit give you a proper name!

Top Rama(n) goes with everything anyway…. Right?