News (2006-2016) News 2010 News Asteroid Named After Tzu Chi

Asteroid Named After Tzu Chi

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The spirit of Tzu Chi has reached the sky – in the form of an asteroid in a distant galaxy named after it. The scientists who made the discovery decided to name it after the Foundation in honour of its contribution around the world.



On 2 October, the president of Taiwan’s National Central University (NCU), the head of its observatory which discovered the asteroid and its staff came to Tzu Chi headquarters in Hualien to report their findings to Tzu Chi’s founder, Master Cheng Yen.

Mr Jiang Weining, the president of NCU, which Lulin Observatory found the asteroid, told the Master that the Great Love of Tzu Chi had no national boundaries and that the naming of the asteroid would allow its light to shine across the universe. The Foundation also represented one of the spirits of Taiwan which had “climbed to the heavens”, he added.

“I hope that, in future, our university can work closely with Tzu Chi and, through science, provide information to prevent disasters and improve the relief work that follows. When science and humanity work together, they create a great strength and help even more people. Tzu Chi people are like a guardian spirit for the Earth,” said Mr Jiang.

This is the first time an asteroid in the galaxy has been named after a religious organization in Taiwan.

In response, Master Cheng Yen noted that, more than 2000 years ago, the Buddha already explained to humanity that the world is continually undergoing change. In fact, everything within this vast universe is changing and impermanent. Hence, the efforts of Tzu Chi to protect the environment, to collect and recycle plastic bottles and turn them into clothing as well as reusing materials are part of a process of renewal.

“I hope that every Tzu Chi member will strive to understand that through astronomy we can understand the Earth and that the Earth and sky are intimately related,” said the Master.

Mr Lin Hung-chin, director of the Lulin Observatory, said the discovery of the asteroid followed years of observation and tracking its orbit and the Observatory was finally able to obtain a permanent number for it last year. The discovery of the asteroid was made on 11 May 2007 by Shih Chia-you, an observation assistant at the Observatory in Chungli, north Taiwan, together with Ye Quanzhi, a student from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou who was working at the Observatory.

Situated between Mars and Jupiter, the asteroid takes 5.62 years to circle the sun and the closest it comes to the earth is 300 million kilometers.

The Observatory decided to name the asteroid ‘Tzu Chi’ and submitted their proposal to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for its approval. The IAU accepted the proposal and gave its approval on 26 July this year. From that date onwards, the asteroid was formally known as ‘Tzu Chi’, which the Observatory hoped will reflect the brightness of the Foundation across the cosmos.


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