ROME, Feb. 28 (AP) — Pope Gregory XIII, the 16th-century pope in charge of what is known today as the Gregorian calendar, now has another celestial claim to fame.
A working group of the International Astronomical Union has named an asteroid after him, the Vatican Observatory said Tuesday.
“560974 Ugoboncompagni” — Gregory’s birth name is Ugo Boncompagni — was announced along with 72 other named asteroids in the Feb. 27 update of the Federation’s Small Body Nomenclature Working Group.
The new team also included three Jesuits affiliated with the Vatican Observatory, bringing the number of Jesuit-named asteroids to more than 30, the Vatican Observatory said in a statement.
Gregory, who lived 1502-1585, worked with an Italian astronomer and a Jesuit mathematician to revise the Julian calendar and introduce a new method of calculating leap years, which resulted in what is now known as the Gregorian calendar.
The Vatican Observatory traces its origins in 1582 to Gregorian papacy and Gregorian calendar reformation. The observatory is located in the Pope’s Summer Palace in Castel Gandolfo in the mountains south of Rome. Today there are more than a dozen priests and monks who study the universe. It is headed by Guy Consolmagno, a Jesuit monk.
According to a statement from the observatory, the process of naming an asteroid — a relatively small space body orbiting the sun — involves a provisional designation based on its discovery date, followed by a permanent number.
“At this time its discoverer is invited to suggest a name for it,” the observatory said, adding that nicknames and business names are banned and that 100 years must pass before an asteroid can be named after a person or some event.
A nomenclature working group of 15 astronomers will then judge the proposed names. (Associated Press)
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