Wed, Oct 17, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Minor planet officially named `Chiayi'

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

National Central University's Lulin Observatory director Lin Hung-chin poses during a press conference on Monday to announce the name of the newly discovered minor planet ``147918 Chiayi.''

PHOTO: CNA

A minor planet discovered by the Lulin Observatory at National Central University has been formally named Chiayi -- the name of the county that houses the observatory, university president Lee Lou-chuang (李羅權) said yesterday.

The observatory officially adopted the name on Monday, after the International Astronomical Union's Committee on Small Body Nomenclature approved its application on Sept. 26, Lee said.

Lee said the minor planet was named Chiayi in order to express gratitude to the Aboriginal people who helped the observatory in the early stages of its establishment.

The minor planet, about 2.4km in diameter, was spotted between Mars and Jupiter by Lulin Observatory director Lin Hung-chin (林宏欽) on Oct. 25 last year, with assistance from Ye Chuan-chih (葉泉志), a student at the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China.

Lin said Chiayi's orbit brings it within 280 million kilometers of the sun and takes it as far as 420 million kilometers away.

It takes just over three-and-a-half years for the minor planet to complete its path around the sun, Lin said.

University vice president Ip Wing-huen (葉永烜) said the observatory started its "Lulin Sky Survey," a systematic scouting project, in March last year, and that more than 450 minor planets have been discovered so far.

The university will spend about NT$130 million (US$3.98 million) to purchase a new 2m telescope, which will be installed in 2010, which is when Chiayi will be best viewed from the observatory.

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