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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


September 6, 2003 - Issue 95


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Saturn's Moons Named after Inuit Characters

by CBC Canada
credits: Some of Saturn's Moons by NASA
IQALUIT, Nunavut - Four of 12 new moons discovered around Saturn in the fall of 2000 have now officially been given Inuktitut names.

Kavelaars' moons appear as little more than points in a telescope.

The decision was announced late last month at the Astronomical Union's meeting in Sydney Australia.

Canadian J.J. Kavelaars was one of the three astronomers who discovered the new moons.

He named one of them after Ijiraq, a mythological Inuit creature he had read about in a children's book written by Michael Kusugak.

Kusugak says he read an article about Kavelaars and found out the astronomer was looking for Inuit names for three more moons.

"Apparently this Canadian, J.J. Kavelaars reads my books to his children and he wanted to name one of those moons 'Ijiraq' after a character in one of my books," he says.

Two of the moons are named after the mythological characters Kiviuq and Siarnaq, or Sedna.

A third is named after Paaliaq, a character Kusugak created for a novel he is working on.

The newly-discovered satellites are about 50 km across and likely icy moons; the remnants of asteroids or comets captured by the planet's gravity long-ago. The satellites orbit Saturn at distances of around 15 million kilometers from the planet.

"These are chunks of material left over from the formation of the solar system", says Kavelaars.

Saturn's Dirty Dozen

Michael Kusugak

Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada Map

Maps by Travel

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