The Chronicles of Nervia
A few weeks ago I made an artist impression of the “Dutch” planet Nachtwacht as a red, white and blue, Jupiter-like gas giant. But such a planetary image in the national colors can of course be made for our southern neighbors as well. After all, also Belgium has recently acquired a planet and a star. As part of the NameExoWorlds project of the International Astronomical Union, the Belgian public could name this piece of real estate in the Milky Way galaxy
The name the Belgians have given to “their” planet sounds a lot more euphonious than the guttural Dutch Nachtwacht: Nervia. Well, of course the name had to be pronouncable in all three national languages: Dutch, French and German. Nervia and its mother star Eburonia (formerly HD 49674) are named after two Celtic tribes, the Nervians and the Eburonians. They lived some two thousand years ago in the north of Gaul, in the area nowadays known as Belgium.
The Lord of the Rings
Nervia is a lot smaller than Nachtwacht, but still larger than Neptune, the eighth planet of our own solar system. Just like Nachtwacht, we have no idea what the planet looks like, other than that it’s most likely a gas giant. The odds are not that high that it indeed has black, yellow and red cloud bands. But the possibility cannot entirely be excluded either.
That Nervia has a Saturnesque ring system as shown in my artist impression is just as speculative, but that too is possible. And such an element that divides the planet into a northern and southern part fits quite well with Belgium and its language border.
In principle, a visualization like this can be made for all planets named by countries with a simple flag, consisting of two or more parallel rectangles. Well, most national flags have a cross, star, emblem or other complication which makes it hard to Jupiterize them. But there are a few dozen flags that ask for it; below a teaser with eighteen national gas giants. I don’t have them in stock, but I can make them to order.
For the French and Germans, it’s simple. Turn Nervia 90 degrees and there is the “German” planet Neri and its star Mago. Turn Nachtwacht 90 degrees and you have the “French” planet Bélisama with the star Bélénos.
Connoisseurs of the comics about Asterix and Obelix recognize the names instantly: the French have been inspired by Gallic gods. The Germans chose a completely different perspective: their star is in the constellation of the Giraffe. Mago is therefore named after the Ethiopian national park Mago, where many giraffes live. Neri is a river in that park.