Monday, November 21, 2011

Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) named after creation deities

By international agreement, trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) are named after creation deities [1,2].

Quaoar (also known as 2002 LM60), a TNO that was discovered on June 4, 2002 by astronomers Chad Trujillo and Michael Brown at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), is named after a creation deity of the Native American Tongva people, native to the area in which Caltech is located. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has officially approved the name Quaoar [1-3].

The following list shows a few other TNOs with their name-giving gods and godesses. This list has been extracted from a page by Denis Moskowitz, who has designed beautiful, magically inspiring symbols for some TNOs based on the “life” or a characteristic attribute of the name-giving deity [4].
  • Eris (2003), named after the Greek goddess Eris (also worshipped in modern Discordianism)
  • Ixion (2001), named after the Greek mythological figure Ixion
  • Haumeaon (2005), named after the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth
  • Makemake (2005), named after the Rapanui fertility god Makemake
  • Orcus (2004),  named after the Roman god Orcus (god of the dead)
  • Sedna (2003), named after the Inuit goddess Sedna
  • Varuna (2000), named after Hindu god Varuna
The number, enclosed in parentheses and following a TNO name, is the year of that TNO's discovery.

I am wondering, if the world's cultural and spiritual heritage will provide enough deities for all the TNO discoveries to come with future advances in space observation and voyaging.

Keywords: astronomy, planetary science, solar system, mythology, nomenclature.

References and more to explore
[1] Neil deGrasse Tyson: The Pluto Files. W. W. Norton & Company, New York and London, 2009; see footnote on page 90.
[2] Universe - Galaxies and Stars > Quaoar is a Trans-Neptunian object orbiting the Sun:
[3]  NASA > A Cold New World:
[4] Denis Moskowitz: Symbols for large trans-Neptunian objects [].

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