Shevchenko days in outer space. What space objects are named after the Ukrainian poet?

On 9 March, Ukraine celebrates the birthday of the outstanding poet, writer and artist Taras Shevchenko. In his work, he occasionally mentioned stars and other celestial bodies. Several astronomical objects are named after him, and we want to tell you about them.

Taras Shevchenko

Shevchenko’s poetic crater

This year Ukraine celebrates the 210th anniversary of the birth of Taras Shevchenko. He was born on 9 March 1814 in the village of Morintsi and during his lifetime became famous not only as a poet, but also as a writer and artist. After his death, his figure became truly legendary. Schools and universities, streets and parks, villages and towns were named after him.

At first glance, Taras has little to do with space, although he certainly poetised the stars and the Sun in his work. Nevertheless, there are objects in space, named after Shevchenko, and they are worth mentioning.

The largest object in the Solar System named after the Ukrainian poet is the Shevchenko crater. It is located on Mercury, where almost all the relief details are named after artists. So Taras Shevchenko is in good company there.

Кратер Шевченко

The Shevchenko crater. Source: Wikipedia

The geological structure was formed hundreds of millions of years ago as a result of a giant asteroid crashing into Mercury. However, the crater was discovered by the Mariner 10 spacecraft as late as 1974, and in 1976 the International Astronomical Union approved the name.

Shevchenko Crater has a diameter of 143 km. This means that if it were located in Ukraine, it would occupy the area from Kyiv to Cherkasy. Over millions of years, it has been covered with new collision marks. In the west, its edge is superimposed by two craters: A 65-kilometre one and a 40-kilometre-long one.

Розташування кратеру Шевченко

Location of the Shevchenko crater. Source: Wikipedia

In the southeast, the Shevchenko Crater rim is crossed by another trace of a recent impact, with a diameter of 25 km. The bottom of the giant ancient depression is also dotted with small marks.

The Shevchenko asteroids

In addition to the crater, at least two asteroids are associated with Taras Shevchenko. One of them is named Kobzar — after the poet’s collection of poems, which became his poetic nickname. The space rock, which was given the number 2427, was discovered on 20 December 1976 by Mykola Chernykh, an employee of the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory.

The asteroid Kobzar belongs to the Main Belt and orbits in a slightly elongated orbit. Its perihelion is 2.28 AU from the Sun, and its aphelion is 3.19 AU from it. The size of this celestial body is 8 km.

The second asteroid, whose name is associated with the Ukrainian poet, is 4868 Knushevia. Knushevia is abbreviated name of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Interestingly, this celestial body was not discovered in a Ukrainian observatory. On 27 October 1989, it was spotted by the American scientist Eleanor Gelin.

Орбіта астероїда Кобзар

The orbit of the asteroid Kobzar. Source: Wikipedia

Traditionally, the right to name the new celestial body, which was about 22 km in size, belonged to her. However, Gelin listened to the suggestion of her colleague Klim Churyumov, and together they proposed naming the object after the Ukrainian university.

The asteroid 5707 Shevchenko also exists. However, it has nothing to do with the Ukrainian poet. It was also discovered in 1976 by Nikolai Chernykh, but he named it after his colleague Vladislav Shevchenko.

In addition, there are the Volodshevchenko and Vasylshev asteroids. They are named after Ukrainian astronomers who share the same surname as the great poet.