How to Report a Discovery

Quick links

  1. Have you found something and is it new?
  2. What to include when reporting a new object
  3. Where to report your object
  4. Information for other discoveries

This Theme is designed to guide you through the process of reporting a discovery. It includes a guide to the most common objects that you may have observed. Please read the sections relevant to your object as well as the general sections before reporting your object. If your finding is not an object observed in the sky (for example a meteorite or asterism) please proceed to section 4. You may also want to consult this Astronomy Picture of the Day.

1. Have you found something and is it new?

Please check the following to verify that you have made a discovery:

If you still think that you have found a new object, please proceed to Section 2 to for information on what to report.

2. What to include when reporting a new object

General reporting information should include:

  • An accurate position and time (especially for comets and minor planets).
  • A reasonable description of the object including (where possible) its magnitude.
  • A precise position for the suspect.
  • Your full name and contact details.
  • Information on your observing location, the instrument used to detect the object and the sources you have checked to rule out alternative explanations.
  • Information on how you have determined that the object is new.
  • For more detail on what to report for a specific object please go to:

When you have collected this information proceed to Section 3 for information on where to report your object.

3. Where to report your object

4. Information for other discoveries

  • Meteorites and fireballs
  • Asterisms
    • Asterisms are patterns or shapes of stars that are not related to the known constellations, but nonetheless are widely recognised by laypeople or in the amateur astronomy community. Examples of asterisms include the seven bright stars in Ursa Major known as “The Plough” in Europe or “The Big Dipper” in America, as well as the “Summer Triangle”, a large triangle, seen in the summer night sky in the northern hemisphere and composed of the bright stars Altair, Deneb and Vega.
    • They are not subject to official approval and no updates are foreseen of the 88 constellations. Read more here.
  • Galaxies or nebulae
    • The Universe is a large place. It is notoriously difficult to keep track of the millions and billions of objects, but the Sesame name resolver is a good place to start. A galaxy will only be reclassified if your research is published in a peer-review scientific journal, following a discussion by the astronomy community about updating their databases.

The IAU cannot accept scientific papers. Instead, we recommend that you submit your paper to a scientific publisher, such as Nature, Science, Astronomy & Astrophysics, IOP Science and AAS. (Please note that this list is not exhaustive.)