One of China's most reputed observatories has shattered one
celebrity's dream to have an asteroid named after them.
Chief of the Purple Mountain Observatory, Yan Jun, said on
Monday that the celebrity tried to offer the observatory millions
of yuan to have an asteroid named after them, but that the offer
had been firmly rejected. He admitted that the celebrity does enjoy
big fame in China. But he wouldn't disclose the bidder's name.
Beijing Morning Post quoted Professor Yan as saying
that commercial naming desecrates scientific research, and that
there is no precedent in the world. My observatory will not be the
first, he said.
There are a couple of ways to name asteroids. And naming them
after people is the most common way of recognising human
achievements - in honor of their contribution to the community. For
instance, asteroids have been named after Chinese American Nobel
laureates of physics Chen Ning Yang and Lee Tsung-Dao
But the honor of being named after an asteroid is never sold to
any individual or organization. The naming of any asteroid must
ultimately be approved by the International Astronomical Union's
Committee for Small Body Nomenclature, which has its own tradition
of giving the privilege to time-honored personalities, especially
statesmen and military strategists.
(CRI.cn March 14, 2007)