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Newly discovered asteroid named after Taiwan's Tsou tribe

Newly discovered asteroid named after Taiwan's Tsou tribe

Taipei, Jan. 15 (CNA) An asteroid that was discovered by astronomers working together from both sides of the Taiwan Strait in 2006 and named after the aboriginal Tsou tribe has been recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) , an academic source said Thursday.
An IAU commission in charge of the naming of comets and minor planets recognized the newly discovered asteroid as "175586 = Tsou = 2006 TU106" Dec. 12 last year, making it the first asteroid to be named after an indigenous Taiwanese tribe, said Yeh Yung-heng, vice president of National Central University in Zhongli, northern Taiwan.
Asteroid Tsou was first discovered at NCU's Lulin Observatory in central Taiwan Oct. 15, 2006 through joint efforts by Ye Quanzhi from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China and Lin Chi-sheng of the Graduate Institute of Astronomy, NCU.
Ye first planned a photographic chart to allow Lin and his research team posted at the Lulin Observatory -- which sits on a mountaintop on the border of Nantou and Chiayi counties -- to acquire images using the observatory's 41-cm camera. Ye then analyzed the findings before referring them to the IAU for confirmation.
According to Lin, Asteroid Tsou is located among an orbit of minor planets, asteroids and comets between Mars and Jupiter. It cannot be seen with the naked eye because it is too far away and too dim, Lin said.
A ceremony was held at NCU Thursday in which a model of Asteroid Tsou was presented to the Alishan rural township in recognition of the contributions made by the Tsou people in building the observatory.
Addressing the ceremony, Yeh said the establishment of the Lulin Observatory would have been impossible if not for the assistance by the aboriginal people living in the area.
Yeh, who is also a professor at the NCU Graduate Institute of Astronomy, said Taiwan's indigenous people have rich knowledge about astronomy that has been handed down orally from generation to generation and noted that people from the Tsou and Bunun tribes carried bricks, cement and other building materials on their backs up to the mountaintop -- 2,862 meters above sea level -- to build the observatory.
In addition, four Tsou men have been employed as guards at the observatory around the clock, all year round, since the observatory was built in 1999, Yeh said.
The IAU's recognition of Asteroid Tsou came after publicity generated by Comet Lulin -- the first comet discovered by Ye and Lin in 2007 -- at the beginning of this year.
Taiwan star gazers were advised that the period between Jan. 10 and late February is the best time to observe Comet Lulin as its tail becomes most vivid during that time as it moves closest to the Earth.
Comet Lulin was initially described as an asteroidal object when found by Ye. Lin then obtained three images of it using the observatory's 41-cm camera.
The discovery of Comet Lulin (C/2227 N3) and Asteroid Tsou were part of the major achievements made in the Lulin Sky Survey (LUSS) project that was planned to explore the various populations of small bodies in the solar system, especially objects that might present a hazard to the Earth.
The comet's maximum magnitude in late February is expected to reach magnitude 6 and will be visible with the naked eye.
Astronomers advised star gazers to make use of the upcoming long Chinese Lunar New Year holiday to appreciate the comet, which will be visible low in the sky in an east-southeast direction before dawn.
(By Deborah Kuo)




Updated : 2021-04-21 19:55 GMT+08:00