Taipei, July 24 (CNA) National Central University will hold a ceremony next month to celebrate official recognition of its discovery of "Zhonglihe," an asteroid named after a Taiwanese literary figure known for his yearning for national identity under Japanese colonial rule.
"Zhong's everlasting zeal to seek his roots is similar to our quest to discover the origin of the universe," said Chang Kuang-hsiang, the leader of the project to name the asteroid.
Zhong, who died in 1960 at the age of 46, wrote several popular works such as "The Native," which reflects the author's genuine affection for his country.
The asteroid "Zhonglihe," the first to be named after a contemporary Taiwanese author, was discovered in 2008 by the school's research team at Lulin Observatory in Chiayi County.
According to Chang, the "potato-shaped" asteroid is located between Mars and Jupiter and has a diameter of two kilometers.
The name was not an immediate hit, however, as it took more than three years for it to survive the scrutiny of the International Astronomical Union.
Chang said it was not until late 2011 that the name "Zhonglihe" was approved, two years after the asteroid was officially recognized and granted the identification number "237187."
He said "Zhonglihe" is among more than two dozen asteroids the university has named since 2002 and was the second to be named for a literary figure. In 2006, it named an asteroid "Sudongpo," a reference to one of the greatest poets in ancient China.
Lee Jui-teng, director of the National Museum of Taiwan Literature that will accept a model of the "Zhonglihe" asteroid during the ceremony on Aug. 4, said he was excited to see recognition of Taiwanese literature in another field.
"It's great to see a link being built between astronomy and humanity," Lee said.
The naming also excited Zhong's family members, who said they were deeply honored and grateful.
Zhong's granddaughter Yi-yen, who is pursuing a doctoral degree at National Central University, said it was almost a miracle to have her grandfather become an asteroid.
"Isn't it wonderful to occasionally lift up your head and find your grandfather gazing at you?" she said.
(By Lee Hsin-Yin)