Dinesh wants to grow up and become a scientist. Hailing from the Narikuravar family, he is the first in his home to go to school. His aspirations have received a celestial boost lately. “See, we are in space,” he says, gleefully, pointing to an image of the solar system.
The image has the planets clearly marked with their orbits. An almost imperceptible speck is circled and labelled ‘230736 Jaly Home’. By way of explanation, a footnote explains Jaly Home is a school/orphanage in Puducherry.
Jaly Home, started by Bruno Savio some years back, has rehabilitated children of gypsies and kids picked off the street. The organisation has literally written its name in the stars. The older kids at the centre are visibly thrilled that an asteroid in space bears the name of the place they call home.
The organisation was able to get its name selected when an asteroid naming contest was announced in October 2013 by the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), a global non-governmental organisation which represents university students to the United Nations and the Minor Planet Centre. “The recognition was possible because of JAL, the Spanish organisation who have worked with us,” says Mr. Bruno.
Volunteers in the Spanish organisation nominated the name, which was among more than 1,000 entries, according to the social media sites of the organisers. The winning entries were forwarded to the International Astronomical Union, the body responsible for naming small bodies within the solar system, like asteroids.
The Spanish organisation also recently funded the new building at Krishna Nagar which Jaly Home recently moved into. A few days before, Virendra Kataria who officially inaugurated the new premises, unveiled the certificate by the NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Classified as a main belt asteroid, it was discovered in November 2003 and carried a numerical figure for a name. Incidentally, it was Vishnu Reddy, an Indian origin astronomer who discovered the asteroid.