Sat, Sep 08, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Asteroid found in Nantou named after philanthropist

Staff writer, with CNA

Philanthropist Chen Shu-chu, center, and Hsiao Hsiang-yao, an observational assistant at Lulin Observatory who discovered asteroid 278986, pose with Hsiao’s family during a ceremony in Taitung on Wednesday, at which National Central University president Jou Jing-yang presented two certificates to Taitung County Commissioner Justin Huang detailing the names of the asteroids.

Photo: Huang Ming-tang, Taipei Times

An asteroid discovered by Lulin Observatory in Nantou County has been named after philanthropist Chen Shu-chu (陳樹菊), the Taitung County Government said on Wednesday.

Asteroid 278986 — discovered by the National Central University-owned observatory 10 years ago — has officially been named “Chenshuchu,” while another asteroid, No. 281561, has been named “Taitung,” the county government said.

The observatory spent a decade seeking naming rights from the International Astronomical Union.

National Central University president Jou Jing-yang (周景揚) attended a ceremony in Taitung, where he presented two naming certificates to Taitung County Commissioner Justin Huang (黃健庭).

Chen, who moved to Kaohsiung after she retired from her job as a vegetable vendor at Taitung’s Central Market, also attended the event.

“I never thought this could happen to me,” Chen said.

Chen, 68, became a household name in Taiwan after local and foreign media reported on her philanthropic work.

She was named one of the 100 most influential people in 2010 by Time magazine after contributing more than NT$10 million (US$324,929) to charitable causes, despite earning a modest salary.

The same year, she was named one of Forbes Asia’s 48 heroes of philanthropy.

In 2012, Chen was one of six winners of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for service to the poor, receiving a US$50,000 cash prize, which she donated to the Taitung branch of Mackay Memorial Hospital.

Chen’s mother died in childbirth while Chen was in elementary school.

She started selling vegetables at her family stall at the age of 13, while helping her father raise her younger siblings.

Chen, who never married and leads a frugal life, has given away most of the money she earned over the past two decades, motivated by a desire to help people, just as her family was helped by others when she was younger.

“Money serves its end only when it can help people in need,” she has said.

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