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ASTEROID NAMED AFTER FILIPINO SCIENTIST
by Edwin Aguirre and Imelda Joson
Photo courtesy of Dr. Bernardo M. Soriano, Jr. (PAGASA).
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA -- An asteroid circling the Sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter and measuring 4 to 9 kilometers in diameter has recently been named after a 77-year-old Filipino scientist and former director of the Philippine weather service. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) last week officially christened minor planet No. 6636 as “Kintanar” in honor of Dr. Roman L. Kintanar, who headed PAGASA for nearly 36 years before retiring in 1994.
Kintanar joins a growing constellation of minor planets that have been named after Filipinos. It began in 1995, when the IAU named asteroid 6282 Edwelda in our honor. Edwelda, which is a combination of our first names, was bestowed on us in recognition of our accomplishments in the field of astronomy, including the book we wrote on Halley’s Comet, which was published in 1985 by the National Research Council of the Philippines. (American astronomer Carolyn S. Shoemaker discovered asteroid 6282 in 1980 from Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California.)
Seven years later, high-school teacher Josette Biyo and students Allan Noriel Estrella, Jeric Valles Macalintal, and Prem Vilas Fortran M. Rara were each honored with a minor planet for winning the 2002 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Louisville, Kentucky. Their asteroids -- christened 13241 Biyo, 11697 Estrella, 12088 Macalintal, and 12522 Rara, respectively -- were all discovered in 1998 by LINEAR, a robotic telescope in Socorro, New Mexico, operated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory.
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