Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese navigator and explorer who was the first to discover a passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
The circumnavigation of the world (1519-1522) was the first of its kind in history, and in the following centuries Magellan’s exploits were praised in unison.
Later in history, closer to our era, it became known that Magellan and many other “discoverers” were also brutal colonizers who plundered, killed, and enslaved indigenous people.
However, we use his name for one of the largest and most talked about celestial bodies: the Magellanic Clouds. More astronomers will do something about it, writes The Guardian.
– Magellan committed terrible deeds. In the Philippines and Guam, he burned villages and killed their residents, says Mia de los Reyes, an astronomer at Amherst College in Massachusetts.
It is supported by Professor David Hogg at New York University. It is believed that the clouds were known to the indigenous people of South America for thousands of years, and were mentioned by historians as early as the ninth century.
“The most important thing here is that the clouds are not detectable,” says Hough.
Two names have been changed: Pluto and Hubble
But it is not easy to change names once science decides to do so.
The controversy surrounding the Magellanic Cloud is just one of many going on in the scientific community at the moment. Another example is biology, where scientists want this Renaming species named after Hitler and Mussolini.
“This is a bit old-fashioned, but it is not an easy process,” says Per Barth Lilje, head of the Department of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Oslo.
If Magellan’s name is to be changed, it must be approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). They hold a meeting every three years, and the next meeting is in Cape Town in August next year.
There, 12,400 members from around the world will vote on the final proposal, including Parth Lilji.
During the Norwegian’s long career in the industry, he has only seen two official name changes:
The world is bigger than Europe
Parth Lilji prefers not to express any opinions before hearing the discussion, but he says nonetheless:
– What should you call them?
The head of the department did not like the name “Milkskien” given by many as a suggestion.
The background here is that the world is bigger than Europe. But now this name has been used for 500 years, so it is difficult to change it. We’ll see what the arguments are like on both sides.
Several voices also wondered where this would end. Magellan has several places bearing his name, as well as some… The best telescopes in the world.
Parth Lilji doubts that the name change proposal will be adopted unanimously.
– There have been many cases of decolonization and awakening, especially in the United States of America and Great Britain. I don’t know how strong it is internationally.
– What do you think Portuguese astronomers think about this matter?
– They are probably very keen to keep Magellan, says Barth Lilje.
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