You’re never going to see another star or planet up close, unless you count the sun, Venus or Mercury as being close at millions of miles away. However, it’s still pretty amazing when you’re named after one when a new celestial body is discovered. Right here in Edmonton, a teacher was able to have one of each named after submitting a Cree name, and both were selected in a competition.
The International Astronomical Union and Canadian Astronomical Society announced that they had found a new planet, HD136418b, and the closest star (the same name without the b). They then said that a contest would be held for the planet and star, with just one winner being able to name both. Junior high teacher Amanda Green found out about the contest, and wanted a piece of Edmonton outside of the Milky Way.
Green has been described as someone that’s obsessed with space, frequently wearing t-shirts (like the one in the photograph) that refer to her favorite passion. “I love everything space and I weave themes of space into my classroom, into my teachings, into my life,” Green said. “One of the things I thought was really important was to not only think about space and the future – things that were personal to me – but also kind of honoring our past and our history,” adding why she entered the contest.
Green wanted to stick with the past of Alberta, honoring the indigenous people. She decided on Cree, and used the words Nikawiy, which means mother, and Awasis, meaning child. “I’m a mother, and I know my children are the centre of my universe,” Green said. After careful consideration, Green’s submission was declared as the winner for the celestial bodies that were found hundreds of millions of lightyears away.
“This is a really great thing for Canada,” Green said. “That we can honour our past and our history and the First Nations people, while also kind of looking forward to the future, and our values of science and technology, math, engineering, but also family and culture and all of that together is just this beautiful thing.”