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(139) Juewa

Reference work entry

Discovered 1874 Oct. 10 by J. C. Watson at Beijing.

The name stands as Juewa, or more fully, Jue-wa-sing, which means literally the “Star of China’s Fortune”. (H 18)

This planet was discovered while preparing for the transit of Venus of December 9, 1874. The discoverer stated (Observation of the Transit of Venus, Part II, p. 108 (1881)): “On the night of the 10th October, while observing in the constellation Pisces, with the 5-inch equatorial, I came across a star of the 11th magnitude in a region of the heavens with which I was very familiar, and where I had not hitherto seen any such star. Subsequent observations the same night by means of a micrometer, extemporized for the purpose, showed that the star was slowly retrograding, and that it was a new member of the group of planets between Mars and Jupiter. The discovery was duly announced to astronomers in other lands, and it became also speedily known in Peking. Some mandarins of high rank came to our station to see the stranger with their own eyes, and upon observing the change of configuration with neighboring stars on two successive nights, they gave free expression to their astonishment and delight. This being the first planet discovered in China, I requested Prince Kung, regent of the Empire, to give it a suitable name. In due time, a mandarin of high rank brought to me the document containing the name by which the planet should be known, coupled with a request — communicated verbally — that I would not publish the name in China until the astronomical board had communicated to the Emperor an account of the discovery and the name which had been given to the planet. This request was of course promptly acceded to; and I afterwards learned upon inquiry that if the knowledge had come to the Emperor otherwise than through the astronomical board, organized specially for his guidance in celestial matters, some of the ministers would have been disgraced.”

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© Springer-Verlag 2003

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