International Astronomical Union adopts Hawaiian names for two locally-discovered asteroids



Hawaiian names for two locally discovered asteroids have been announced. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently adopted the Hawaiian names Kamoʻoalewa and Kaʻepaokaʻāwela, which were selected by Hawaiian immersion students during the groundbreaking A Hua He Inoa pilot nomenclature project last year.

The celestial discoveries represent the second and third indigenous names accepted by the organization following ʻOumuamua, named in 2017. Kamoʻoalewa is sourced from the kumulipo, and alludes to a celestial object that is oscillating, reflecting the asteroid’s path in the sky when viewed from Earth. Kaʻepaokaʻāwela means “the mischievous opposite-moving companion of Jupiter,” evoking the image of a retrograde object of unknown origin.

“It is exciting to see the Hawaiian language and cultural practices elevated on a global stage with the official recording of Kamoʻoalewa and Kaʻepaokaʻāwela, not to mention the IAU’s consideration of Pōwehifor the incredible black hole discovery,” said Kaʻiu Kimura, ʻImiloa Astronomy Center executive director.

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