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Small planet 5538 has been named "Lui Che Woo Star" to applaud his enormous contributions to science, education and social welfare.


In 1995, an asteroid numbered 5538 discovered by the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences was named as “Lui Che Woo Star”.

What is an Asteroid?

Other than the 8 major planets in the solar system, there are many asteroids (small planets) revolving around the sun in their particular orbits. Since the discovery of Ceres in 1801, astronomers from around the world have done numerous researches about asteroids. Up to now, over 5,000 asteroids were discovered. Among countless numbers of celestial bodies in the Universe, only asteroids and comets in the solar system can be named by their discoverers. Some are named after gods, countries, cities, and people who have well-respected contributions to the world.

The Naming of Asteroid

According to international regulations, small asteroids in the solar system can be named by their discoverers. However, the naming of asteroids has to be approved by the Naming Committee of the International Asteroid Research Centre. This committee consists of famous astronomers from 3 continents. Once the name is approved, such name will be registered in Observatories around the world and will become an internationally recognized permanent record. Such award represents a worldwide honour.

How was the “Lui Che Woo Star” Discovered?

The “Lui Che Woo Star” was discovered on 9 October 1964, by the Purple Mountain Observatory in Nanjing, China. Such asteroid was discovered by a 40cm aperture twin refracting telescope and was located in the Pisces constellation. Numerous research and tests about such asteroid were made by astronomers and the Harvard Observatory in the U.S. The asteroid was finally registered as planet number 5538 in May 1993.

The 40cm Aperture Twin Refracting Telescope which discovered the “Lui Che Woo Star”

The Orbit of the “Lui Che Woo Star”

The “Lui Che Woo Star” revolves endlessly around the Sun. The average distance of the “Lui Che Woo Star” and the Sun is 3.43 billion kilometres. It moves in the speed of 1,710 thousand kilometres daily and takes 3.46 years for each revolution around the Sun. On 26 February 1997, the “Lui Che Woo Star” was appeared in the beautiful Leo constellation which represented good luck and blessing.

Orbital Information of the “Lui Che Woo Star”

Space orbital elements (Ecliptic and Eguinox 2000.0)
Osculating epoch: 1995 10 10.0 ET
Semi-major axis: 2.2893877 AU
Eccentricity: 0.1664799
Peri: 45.°42118
Node: 335. °58336
Incl.: 5. °23237
Mean anomaly: 339. °00297
Period: 3.46413 years

The Meaning of Research of “Lui Che Woo Star”

Since the discovery of Ceres in 1801, astronomers from around the world made numerous research and studies about asteroids. It enriched our knowledge about the Universe and provoked the development of celestial mechanics and orbital theory of artificial satellite. Nowadays, space crafts are being used for asteroid research. It is possible that asteroids be used as a relay station for future astronavigation to further review the secret of the Universe.

Information about the Purple Mountain Observatory

The Purple Mountain Observatory is an astronomical institution under the Chinese Academy of Science. It is situated on the Purple Mountain in the eastern suburb of Nanjing. Built in 1929 and completed in 1934, the Purple Mountain Observatory is the first comprehensive observatory established by Chinese. Many ramified astronomical subjects and newly-built observatory stations of contemporary Chinese astronomy are developed from there. As a result, the Purple Mountain Observatory is regarded as “The Cradle of Contemporary Chinese Astronomy”.

Armillary Sphere

A corner of Purple Mountain Observatory

The Observatory is engaged in the research of basic astronomy which consists of celestial mechanics, astrophysics, radio astronomy, space astronomy and the invention of astronomical instrument. The Observatory has a high reputation in the fields of space astronomy, stellar physics, millimetre wave radio astronomy, calculation and compilation of almanacs and satellites. The Purple Mountain Observatory has discovered over 500 asteroids, comets and many other minor celestial bodies. Such large number of prominent research work help to consolidate the foundation of the astronomic development of the nation.

In order to reinforce and extend the connections with other astronomic units all over the world, the Observatory has maintained a good and co-operative relationship with about 230 astronomic institutions over 40 countries.