Jerusalem among the stars

International Astronomical Union approves naming a recently discovered planet after Jerusalem.

jerusalem planet 298 (photo credit: )
jerusalem planet 298
(photo credit: )
For centuries, Jerusalem has been considered the center of the earth, but now it has been become a planet unto itself. Scientists have unveiled the authentic Planet Jerusalem, after the International Astronomical Union finally approved the naming of a recently discovered minor planet in honor of Israel's capital. Initially spotted in December 2000 by Dr. Michal Kocer and his wife Martina from the Klet Observatory in the Czech Republic, the minor planet from the Phocaea asteroid family has an estimated diameter of three to six kilometers and is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The non-Jewish couple, who feel a strong connection to Jerusalem, were personally asked by the IAU to offer suggestions for the asteroid's nomenclature after further repeated sightings were logged by numerous astronomers worldwide. In a letter addressed to Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, to which they attached a certificate of authenticity along with an orbit diagram, the Kocers explained that their decision was meant to express "our blessings for the city of peace, the most beautiful city we've ever been to." In reply, Lupolianski thanked the Kocers for the gesture, adding poetically: "The light of this star will not fade, just as the star of the city of Jerusalem has continued to sparkle for thousands of years among the Jewish people and across the world." A spokesman for the IAU told The Jerusalem Post that the newly named (63163) Jerusalem 2000 YR11‚ was designated as a tribute to the city's broad religious and historical significance. "Jerusalem is an ancient Middle Eastern city," the official recommendation stated. "Its unique position among cities of the world derives from its crucial role in religious history as a holy city for three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam." Many other cities around the world such as London, Paris and Johannesburg have also been afforded the distinction of having an asteroid named after them, but according to the IAU's official list, there is still no representation for the likes of Berlin or New York.