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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Sept 1, 2006 15:52:11 GMT -6
Messing with Tradition: Naming the Planets after Greek Gods.
Greek astronomers have appealed to the world's top astronomical body to maintain a tradition of naming planets after Greek mythological figures, the Athens Observatory said on Friday.
The Greeks were riled when a new planet-sized object discovered in 2003 was unofficially called 'Xena' in hommage 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
"The last five years have seen a new interpretation of the solar system and we have to avoid giving offhand names to newly-discovered stars," Goudis told AFP.
"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 kilometres (nine billion miles) from Earth, in 2003.
A fan of the popular television series, Brown has nine years to think of a permanent name for the orb, originally designated as 2003 UB313.