May 13, 2019
Kochi--A Japanese astronomer has named the asteroid he found three decades ago after Reiwa, the name of the country's new era.
On May 5, Tsutomu Seki, 88, made a proposal to the International Astronomical Union to call the asteroid he found in the west of the Pleiades in 1989 "Reiwanohoshi" (the star of Reiwa).
The name of Reiwanohoshi is expected to be approved as early as one or two months later. The era of Reiwa started on May 1 when Emperor Naruhito took the throne.
"Initially, I didn't mean to name it, but I decided as my astronomer friends encouraged me" to do so, said Seki, a resident of the western Japan city of Kochi.
The 18th-magnitude asteroid that cannot be seen by the naked eye has an estimated diameter of some 10 kilometers.
Seki, known as a comet hunter, has so far found 223 asteroids as well as six comets, including Comet Ikeya-Seki, found in 1965.
In 1990, he named one of those asteroids Heisei, the name of the country's previous era, which ended on April 30 after three decades in line with Emperor Emeritus Akihito's abdication.
Showa was an "era of war and defeat," Seki said of the era which preceded Heisei. He said, "I hope that the world will become peaceful in the era of Reiwa" after Heisei saw a series of natural disasters.
Seki is planning to organize an astronomical observation event autumn next year, when Reiwanohoshi is expected to approach Earth. Jiji Press
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