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