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University names asteroid 'Miaoli' to thank county for its support

2012/04/23 22:53:01

Taipei, April 23 (CNA) National Central University held a ceremony Monday to celebrate naming an asteroid it discovered "Miaoli," the northern Taiwanese county where the school resumed operations 50 years ago.

Speaking at the ceremony, Liu Gin-rong, acting president of the university, said the school chose the name out of gratitude to the county for provided strong support and free land to help it resume operations in 1962.

The school also gave a model of the asteroid to Miaoli County Magistrate Liu Cheng-hung during the ceremony.

The asteroid was first discovered in 2008 by an assistant at the school's Lulin Observatory in Chiayi County with the help of a student at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, the university said.

The International Astronomical Union approved naming the asteroid Miaoli last year, the university said.

According to Chou Yi, head of the university's Graduate Institute of Astronomy, the asteroid is located on the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and is 150 million kilometers away when it is at the closest point to Earth.

The orbital period of the asteroid is 4.43 years, Chou said, adding that it can be currently spotted between Pegasus and Aquarius.

The university, first established in Nanjing, China in 1915, later moved from Miaoli to its current location -- Zhongli in Taoyuan County -- in 1968 to better attract teachers.

(By Kuan Jui-pin and Kay Liu)