An Indian tribe in present-day California named a unique asteroid at the request of scientists who discovered it.
Two years ago, astronomers operating the Zwicky Transition Facility (ZTF) discovered the first known asteroid to orbit the sun in the orbit of Venus. But so far it has only been known as the 2020 AV2.
The native land of the Pauma Indian group includes the area around Palomar Observatory of the California Institute of Technology, where ZTF is located. During a blessing and song ceremony on June 7, a group from Pauma named the asteroid “Ayló’chaxnim.” (Pronounced approximately as eye-LO-chax-nihm, where x denotes a sound similar to that at the end of the word loch.) Accordingly, the name means “girl Venus” in the language of the tribe, Luiseño.
According to university statement, the research team turned to Pauma to name the asteroid in what ZTF co-researcher George Hallow called a “celebration of their language, history and connection to the night sky.” Initially, Pauma wanted to call the asteroid “Daughter of Venus”, citing its close connection to the planet, but Luiseño’s translation was too long to be approved by International Astronomical Union (IAU)the governing body responsible for naming celestial objects.
The naming celebrations include members of the Pauma group of all ages who attend the observatory.
“Your ancestors, who go back many thousands of years, were very good at studying the night sky and used their knowledge to develop calendars, mark seasons and find their way in travel,” said Jonas Zmuidzinas, an astronomer. and director of the Caltech Optical Observatories, said at the ceremony. – The ancestors of the Pauma group were actually Palomar’s first astronomers.
Pauma member Patti Dixon, a professor of American Indian studies at Palomar College, was moved by the connection between her tribe’s traditions and the modern observatory. “This event will expose the children to the great observatory in their backyard,” she said in a statement.
The connection between the Pauma Group and the Palomar Observatory is not entirely new. In 2009, retired telescope operator Jean Mueller worked with the Pauma group to name three asteroids he discovered in the late 1980s and early 1990s of the gods of Luiseno: Tucmit (Heavenly Father). , Tomayovit (Mother of the Earth) and Quila (Black Oak).