A small pet peeve of mine is capitalization. Many people fail to realize that astronomical objects such as the Earth or Sun should have their first letter capitalized. The most plain and obvious reason is that both of those words are proper nouns, and proper nouns should be capitalized because they can be seen as either a place or a thing.
I understand it is fairly simple to write something like, "The sun is at the center of the solar system." But I just feel those are large errors to commit when writing. Again, both the Sun and Solar System are proper nouns so they should automatically be capitalized.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU), which is the official authority on naming celestial things, the structure of astronomical papers, and astronomical grammar, does not have the authority to fully demand capitalization all the time. Different countries have different rules in remarks to their grammar. The IAU Style Manual states, "The use of capitals for the initial letters of words is much more common in English (and German) than in French," but they do recommend that astronomical objects should be capitalized in both languages.
This is what the IAU recommends in reference to astronomy capitalization, "The initial letter of a word should be typed or printed as a capital in the following cases...individual astronomical objects (such as Earth, the Solar System, Orion, the Crab Nebula, Galactic Centre)...[and] names of individual objects or instruments (Voyager 2)."
I just wanted to address this because it is important to capitalize the Andromeda Galaxy just as its important to capitalize the White House. I am not going to end on a note saying thay, "To keep astronomy sacred and precious we must first correct our grammar." All that I am going to say is just capitalize those astronomical objects because all things in astronomy are wonders, are proper, and are worth the extra effort to be capitalized.
- Is it just me, or did I say 'astronomical objects' a lot?
- I noticed that major writing applications such as Word, Open Office, and other online spell-check features do not automatically capitalize astronomical objects.
- I recently discussed astronomical capitalization with Helium.com and since then, they have changed most of their space-related articles so words like the Sun and Solar System are capitalized.
- The IAU does not say anything about capitalizing astronomical objects that are plural
Links:IAU Recommendation of Spelling (Online)
IAU Full Recommendation of Capitalization (In Print)