Asteroids, Deities and Heroes

Asteroids, Deities and Heroes

Asteroids, Deities and Heroes https://asteroidday-uploads.s3.eu-central-1.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/10135700/Capture-decran-2024-04-10-a-13.56.55.png 644 374 Asteroid Day Asteroid Day https://asteroidday-uploads.s3.eu-central-1.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/10135700/Capture-decran-2024-04-10-a-13.56.55.png

Narratives and legends with characters that have transcended time have also served as inspiration for astronomers when naming asteroids. Use this same creativity to plan and execute engaging events.

Since ancient times, humanity has tried to explain what they saw in the sky. The Sun, the Moon, the planets and the stars were incorporated into various mythologies, accumulating over time stories that still enchant people of all generations.

Deities, heroes and fantastic creatures that achieved the status of objects of worship by different civilizations are also characters in narratives that tried to explain the cosmos and its components. Today, they serve as a source of inspiration for naming discovered celestial bodies, including asteroids.

The mythological richness combined with the diversity of asteroids inspire engaging ideas for interacting with the public, creating interdisciplinary activities that bring together science, arts, culture and literature.

Vesta, one of the first asteroids discovered. Its name originates from a Roman deity (DAWN/NASA-JPL/Alamy)

With the increasing number of asteroids being discovered over the years, alternative naming conventions have been established to include mythological figures from various cultures. Today, we have several asteroids named after mythological characters from civilizations worldwide.

Deities and mythological characters from various cultures, (Wikimedia / Encyclopedia Mythica). Please note that some images included are for illustrative purposes.

Please review the following guidelines for conducting effective searches for asteroids, as well as exploring mythological references accessible online:

This constantly updated list of Minor Planet Names from the Minor Planet Center preserves the names of all known asteroids, many of which are linked to the mythology of diverse cultures. By choosing a few and inputting their data into the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Small-Body Database Lookup, you can access both physical and orbital information about them. Additionally, NASA’s Eyes on Asteroids provides a detailed view of the orbits of several asteroids in space.

The Theoi Project is an excellent compendium to explore the characters from Greek mythology who inspired the first names given to asteroids. Thomas Bulfinch, an American writer who lived in the 19th century, is well known for having published works containing these famous fables. The webpages Godchecker, Encyclopedia Mythica and Mythopedia offer a large database of different mythologies.

After selecting the asteroids and researching into the historical origins of their names, it is time to think about activities that involve your audience. 

Consider these suggestions:

Theatrical play – Fables and legends can be further investigated through theatrical productions involving collaborative groups. This will help introduce the characters who inspired the names of the asteroids and understand their relevance in the mythological framework.

Role play about asteroids and planetary defense made with students at an event organized by Spaceport India on Asteroid Day 2021. The same idea can be expanded to introduce characters who gave names to known asteroids and known stories.

Contests – essays, stories, drawings or comics about these characters can be turned into contests to engage your audience’s creativity. This article offers great suggestions.

Book release event including the best stories about asteroids held in contest during Asteroid Day 2022 in Chile. This activity can be adapted to describe asteroids that have received names linked to the mythology and culture of your region. (Universidad de Santiago de Chile Planetarium / Instituto Millenio de Astrofisica / Sociedad Chilena de Astronomia)

Real life heroes – Beyond the realm of mythological stories, there exist individuals of exceptional courage and accomplishment. These individuals have embarked on extraordinary journeys, showcasing their talents in compelling narratives that have garnered them esteemed recognition and honor. Some have even been immortalized by having celestial bodies named in their honor.

These heroes are distinguished experts in their fields, including scientists, scholars, and professionals, who have exhibited unwavering dedication to the study and exploration of celestial bodies. The accounts of their efforts serve as a testament to their steadfast commitment and passion. These narratives can be crafted into a meaningful tribute to these esteemed figures in the realms of science and exploration.

Don’t forget to register your event online. After, submit your event report to find out how your audience reacted to learning about fascinating stories about the characters who gave their names to the asteroids.