Over 40 religious of the Society of Jesus already immortalised in space

Two more asteroids named after Jesuit scientists

Paris - Jesuits have been exploring space for the Pope in their observatories for hundreds of years. Time and again, the astronomical community has honoured researching religious men: Now two more asteroids bear the names of Fathers.

Published  on 03.05.2024 at 14:36  – 

Once again, two Jesuits have been honoured by the naming of asteroids. Two celestial bodies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter have been named after the Fathers Marcin Odlanicki Poczobut (1728-1810) and Emanuel Carreira Vérez (1931-2020), the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group on the Naming of Small Celestial Bodies announced in its latest Bulletin (April 2024) with. The asteroids now officially bear the names "(191775) Poczobut" and "(658642) Carreira".

Poczobut was a Lithuanian-Polish astronomer and mathematician and was director of the observatory in Vilnius from 1764 to 1807. A moon crater has already been named after him. The astrophysicist Carreira was interested in cosmic radiation and worked at the Vatican Observatory, which was run by the Jesuits. "Recognised for the invention of astronomical instruments, he was passionately committed to reconciling science and faith," the IAU paid tribute to him. The Spanish Jesuit was best known for his popular scientific and philosophical works on the origin of the universe and life. He also invented two astronomical instruments that helped amateur astronomers in particular to observe the sky.

At least 40 Jesuits and a pope in the asteroid belt

With the two new asteroids named after Jesuits, there are now at least 40 celestial bodies named after members of the order. Last year, nine asteroids were named after Jesuits, including one in honour of the now 101-year-old former Italian provincial Sabino Maffeo. In the same year, the founder of the Vatican Observatory, Pope Gregory XIII, was also honoured under his real name Ugo Boncompagni (1502-1585) was immortalised in the sky. He promoted astronomy in support of his calendar reform. Previously Pope Benedict XVI was honoured with an asteroid name in recognition of his opening of the Vatican archives to science. were honoured for science.

The naming of asteroids is a multi-stage process. A new celestial body is registered when it is observed by an observer on two consecutive nights. The sightings must then be reported to the IAU's Minor Planet Centre, which assigns a provisional identification number. Previous sightings of previously unidentified celestial bodies are then compared with the new sighting and any duplicates are merged. As soon as an exact orbit can be determined from the data, the asteroid is given a permanent number. The right to choose a name belongs to the researcher who has provided enough data to calculate the orbit, i.e. not necessarily the first discoverer. The proposed name is then reviewed by the Working Group on the Naming of Small Celestial Bodies and finally officially published. (fxn)