As the comma turned (in space!)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/09/23 10:01 -04:00, original URI:

Unicode List regular Karl Pentzlin wrote to the list the other day:

On ,
the IAU (International Astronomical Union) publishes a press release
of 2008-09-17 "IAU names fifth dwarf planet Haumea".

There, also the names of two moons of this dwarf planet are announced,
the larger of them being named Hiʻiaka (after a Hawaiian goddess).

It is pleasant to see that this name is in fact spelled correctly in
the recent version of that press release, including U+02BB as the
correct encoding for the Hawaiian ʻokina.

This even is done in the plain text file downloadable from that
site, which is UTF-8 encoded.

Thus we have now a celestial body which is officially given a name
which requires Unicode to be spelled correctly, rather than simply
ASCII (aka ISO 646) or ISO 8859-1.

From that press release:

Haumea sits among the trans-Neptunian objects, a vast ring of distant cold and rocky bodies in the outer Solar System. At this moment it is roughly 50 times the Sun-Earth distance from the Sun, but at its closest the elliptical orbit of Haumea brings it 35 times the Sun-Earth distance from our star.

Haumea is the name of the goddess of childbirth and fertility in Hawaiian mythology. The name is particularly apt as the goddess Haumea also represents the element of stone and observations of Haumea hint that, unusually, the dwarf planet is almost entirely composed of rock with a crust of pure ice.

Hawaiian mythology says that the goddess Haumea's children sprang from different parts of her body. The dwarf planet Haumea has a similar history, as it is joined in its orbit by two satellites that are thought to have been created by impacts with it in the past. During these impacts, parts of Haumea's icy surface were blasted off. The debris from these impacts is then thought to have gone onto form the two moons.

After their discovery, in 2005, the moons were also given provisional designations, but have now too been given names by the CSBN and the WGPSN. The first and largest moon is to be called Hiʻiaka, after the Hawaiian goddess who is said to have been born from the mouth of Haumea and the matron goddess of the island of Hawaiʻi. The second moon of Haumea is named Namaka, a water spirit who is said to have been born from Haumea's body.

Now that is indeed quite cool, for reasons I am having trouble fully identifying.

I mean, language is everywhere.

And Unicode captures language.

So why be so interested when people get better and better at supporting language?

No idea. But I love it. :-)


This blog brought to you by ʻ (U+02bb, aka MODIFIER LETTER TURNED COMMA - typographical alternate for U+02BD or U+02BF, used in Hawai`ian orthography as `okina (glottal stop))

Mark S. on 28 Sep 2008 11:30 AM:

You'll probably love this as much as I do: Statistics of diacritical characters in Minor Planets Names.

See also "Pinyin in Space"

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referenced by

2008/10/01 Parents, to be perfectly blunt, suck at names, sometimes

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