You may or may not have heard that the space exploration game No Man's Sky will have over 18 quintillion planets for players to explore. Yes, you read that right. The procedurally-generated galaxy will create 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets each with their own environment, creatures, and resources to be explored, discovered, and catalogued.
If you are the first to discover a planet, you also get to name that planet. This is highly likely as the developers estimate that 99% of the planets will remain undiscovered. You will be landing on many, many planets as you explore the vast reaches of space, so... just how will you name all your many celestial discoveries?
Because it's hard to know what you should call a new world, here are a couple of methods I recommend for coming up with awesome names for your planets in No Man's Sky.
1. Name a planet after mythological and supernatural beings
In the Western World, when the only planets we knew of were the ones in our solar system we could see with the naked eye, ancient astrologists named them after the Roman pantheon of deities. There's also quite a list of Greek names to pull from as well.
But let's not be so Anglo-centrist. There are endless possibilities delving into other culture's naming conventions. Take inspiration from other languages and histories:
- And, if you must be Anglo-centrist, check out this list of Norse names.
2. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) systemic naming system
Once us Earthlings got some telescope action in play we realized that every star was a sun with its own set of planets and we didn't have enough deities to name them all. Thus, the IAU systemic naming system was developed. It's fairly simple. A newly discovered planet is named after the star it revolves around followed by a lowercase letter of the alphabet starting with the letter b.
So if you discovered the first planet orbiting the star Helix 5, you would name that planet Helix 5 b. The second planet you discovered orbiting that same star would be named Helix 5 c, etc.
This might make for pretty boring planet names, but makes for efficient and easy to follow and remember discoveries.
3. Generate your own NMS planet naming convention
An enterprising coder has created a website that allows you to quickly generate a name for your planet based on certain aspects of it. Just enter the name of the star it orbits, the size of the star, the planet size and other details then hit the generate button. It will create a name that looks like a string of garbled numbers and letters, but will help you identify the planet later if you need to.
You'll get something like: helix.5-820a
By including the name of the star and the climate conditions, for example, you may be able to recall which planet it was at a later date.
Pro Tip: Under the Extras section, use the 'Discovered by' section to make a note to yourself like if it had a particularly resource, though remember you are only limited to three characters here.
4. Use a random name generator
It's easy to knock name generators, but they're always a great source of inspiration. The Fantasy Name Generator site has a section that will randomly generate 10 randomly planet sounding names every time you click the button. I got:
- Blore 107J
- Sneon E3
STILL not sure what to name your planet? Take a randomly generated name and then add or subtract some letters until it sounds like an awesome planet.
No Man's Sky comes out for PlayStation 4 on August 9th and PC on August 12th.
Learn more about No Man's Sky 18 quintillion planets in our deep dive into their galactic algorithm.