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Planet Named Xuzhihong at Ceremony for Fiftieth Anniversary of Astronomy in PKU

Peking University, Beijing, May. 7, 2009: On the afternoon of May 4, the Fiftieth Anniversary of Astronomy in Peking University (PKU), the Tenth Anniversary of the Department of Astronomy at PKU, and the Xuzhihong Minor Planet Naming Ceremony was held at the conference hall of the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at PKU (KIAA-PKU). Teachers and students of the Department of Astronomy, the researchers of KIAA, the alumini, and the some scholars of astronomy attended the ceremory. Prof. Xu Zhihong, the former President of PKU and other academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences also attended the ceremony. Nearly one hundred people, including leaders of various astronomy research institutes, alumini, and scholars in astronomy field, were invited to the ceremony. Prof. Wu Xuebing, the Deputy Chair of Department of Astronomy emceed the ceremony.

During the ceremony, Prof. Chen Jiansheng delivered the welcoming remarks to the attendees. In the lecture of Prof. Wu Xinji of Department Astronomy, he recalled the history of PKU astronomy. In 1920s, when Cai Yuanpei was the president of PKU, they once considered to set up a Department of Astronomy. The plan was put off due to objective conditions, but astronomy courses were opened at PKU. In 1958, Mr. Cheng Maolan of Beijing Astronomical Observatory advised PKU to set up an Astronomy Division. The Astronomy Division in the Department of Geophysics was finally established in 1960. With the hard work of several generations of astronomiers, the Department of Astronomy has gain heavy achievements druing these fifty years. Now, the department has a mature teaching and researching team, and has trained hundreds of astronomers who are the backbone for China. They finished large national astronomical projects several times, and have gained praise from astronomers both at home and abroad. In June 2000, the Department of Astronomy was formally established, and they invited Prof. Chen Jiansheng, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, to be the Chair of the department. In 2006, the KIAA-PKU has been co-established by PKU and the Kavli Foundation, and been put into operation in 2008.

Subsequently, the Xuzhihong Minor Planet Naming Ceremony was held. The ceremony was emceed by Prof. Chen Jiansheng. Mr. Yan Jun, Director-general of National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), pronounced the bulletin of naming of Xuzhihong Planet. Then, Mr. Fang Xin delivered the certificate to Prof. Xu Zhihong. On October 14 of 1995, the researcher of NAOC observed a minor planet on the day of Prof. Xu Zhihong’s 53rd birthday. During the periods when he was president of PKU and vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Prof. Xu Zhihong steadfastly and effectively supported the development of Chinese astronomy. Thus, NAOC decided to apply to use his name as the name of the discovered minor planet. On October 4 of 2009, The Minor Planet Center (MPC) released that the No. 90826 Minor Planet has been named as “Xuzhihong” forever.

Prof. Lin Jianhua, Executive Vice-President of PKU, pointed out that Prof. Xu Zhihong used to introduced a series of reform  measures to lead the innovation of education during the period when he was the president of PKU. Although he has multiple positions in different places, he still gave classes just to promote the development of education management and the popularization of life science. The naming is a praise to Prof. Xu Zhihong's charisma, and to show great appreciation for his contributions to society and education as well. Then, Prof. Xu Zhihong highly affirmed the astronomers’ hard-working spirit in research, and gave thanks to the astronomical predecessors and colleagues.

The related Celebration Activities lasted for a whole day. Besides the Anniversary Ceremony and Naming Ceremony, the Department of Astronomy also held a seminar that day. With Prof. Liu Xiao of School of Physics as the chair, the astronomers exchanged their ideas on the development of Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT), the introduction of LAMOST, the aim of FAST, the DOME-A Antarctic Astronomy, 30-meter Telescope (TMT), and so on.


Edited by: Connie Chang
Translated by: Su Juan
Source: PKU News (Chinese)