Astronomers on Quixotic quest to immortalize Cervantes with a star

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Emma Anderson - [email protected]
Astronomers on Quixotic quest to immortalize Cervantes with a star
The star currently known as Mu Arae and author Miguel de Cervantes. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Some celebrities get the honour of having their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But a group of Spanish astronomers have something more cosmic in mind for their own literary star.


The famous writer of one of the most world-renowned works of Spanish literature could soon see his name written not just on paper, but also in the stars, if a group of Spanish astronomers gets their way.

The Society of Spanish Astronomers, Pamplona Planetarium and Cervantes Institute have launched a campaign, calling for support to name a little-known star after Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes.

The International Astronomical Union vote opened earlier this month, giving people all over the world the chance to decide on the names of dozens of exoplanet star systems.

One of those systems revolves around the star currently known as µ Arae (Mu Arae), which is about 50 light-years away from Earth and still visible to the naked eye.

The campaign Estrella Cervantes (Cervantes Star) wants Mu Arae to be called Cervantes, and the four planets revolving around it to be named after the author’s leading characters in his famous novel - Quijote, Sancho, Dulcinea and Rocinante.

A rendering of the proposed naming of Mu Arae's planetary system from the Estrella Cervantes campaign.

"The importance of Miguel de Cervantes in the universal culture can hardly be overestimated," the Cervantes star campaign said in a statement.

"His major work, Don Quijote, considered the first modern novel of world literature and one of the most influential book in the entire literary canon, has many times been regarded as the best work of fiction ever written.

"However, while Shakespeare has his Uranian satellites, Cervantes has been so far excluded from the cosmic spheres."

Published in 1605 (Part One) and 1615 (Part Two), Don Quixote is thought to be one of the most widely read and translated books in the world.

The IAU will make a decision on the star names in November, which the Cervantes star campaign said would perfectly correspond with the 400-year anniversary of Don Quixote’s second part.

The supposed remains of Cervantes were discovered after a long search earlier this year in the crypt of a Madrid convent. He was given a formal burial and monument in June.


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