Monday, September 04, 2006

Plea to keep the universe Greek

Source: The Australian

September 02, 2006

GREEK astronomers had appealed to the world's top astronomical body to maintain a tradition of naming planets after Greek mythological figures, the Athens Observatory said today.

The Greeks were riled when a new planet-sized object discovered in 2003 was unofficially called Xena in homage to the main character of the American fantasy television series Xena: Warrior Princess.

"This provisional name ... is at the origin of this initiative taken by the observatory," the institute's astronomy department director Christos Goudis said.

Observatory chairman Christos Zerefos wrote a letter to the International Astronomical Union on August 20 proposing the names of a number of Greek mythological figures to replace Xena, Mr Goudis said.

"The last five years have seen a new interpretation of the solar system and we have to avoid giving off-hand names to newly-discovered stars," Mr Goudis said.

"Astronomy has deep roots ... we must preserve this historic tradition," he said.

A team led by US astronomer Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology discovered Xena, a frozen object some 15 billion km from Earth, in 2003.

A fan of the popular television series, Mr Brown has nine years to think of a permanent name for the orb, originally designated as 2003 UB313.

1 comment:

Alexandra P said...

...Except that the planets are named for the Roman deities, not the Greek ones....