Nicole Oliveira: An eight-year-old from Brazil is the youngest astronomer in the world

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THE Nicole Oliveira, from the city Fortaleza of Brazil, is not an ordinary eight-year-old.

The little girl has been interested in Space since she was an infant and raised her hands to reach the stars on the ceiling of her room while still learning to walk. When she was four, she asked her parents for a telescope to “measure the stars.” And soon her parents realized that their gift had taken place.

Today, at the age of eight, she is listed as the youngest in astronomical circles astronomer in the world thanks to its cooperation with NASA, which has almost taken her under its protection, as part of the program «Asteroid Hunters», which helps young people get in touch with science.

And Nicole has confirmed the claim of the US Space Agency that she is a “miracle child” in this area, as she has already identified 18 asteroids – something that if confirmed by astronomers, could become the youngest astronomer in the world. , breaking the record set by the then 18-year-old Italian Luigi Sannino in 1998.

Of course, the discovery of celestial bodies by someone, immediately gives him the right to name them as he wishes. And Nicole is sure of what she wants. “I will give them names of Brazilian scientists or members of my family, like my mother or father,” she told AFP.

“When she was two years old, she raised her hands to the sky and said, ‘Mom, give me a star,'” she recalls. her mother, Zilma Zanaka, which adds that her daughter’s room is full of solar system posters and Star Wars figures.

“It is extremely observant as it immediately detects images that look like asteroids,” he said. Rodriguez Moreira, Nicole’s professor of astronomy at the private school in Fortaleza, where he attends on a scholarship.

“However, the most important thing is that she shares her knowledge with other children, contributing in her own way to the spread of astronomy and to her classmates,” Moreira added.

Asteroid Hunter

The program, in which Nicole participates, is known as “Asteroid Hunters” and is designed by International Astronomical Search Collaboration in collaboration with NASA, to introduce young people to the science of Astronomy by helping them make their own discoveries.

As part of this program, every night, after doing her homework, Nicole opens her computer, connects to NASA, through special codes she has received and then looks for hours at night sky images on its computers, trying to locate new celestial bodies or asteroids.

Nicole’s involvement in the Asteroid Hunters program is due to the fact that the Brazilian Ministry of Science is one of the organizations working with NASA in this program.

In addition to searching for asteroids, Nicole is interviewing scientists for her YouTube channel, while last year she met with Marcos Pontes, the Minister of Science and the only Brazilian so far to go into space.

As for her future, she states that she wants to become an aerospace engineer. “I want to build rockets. “I would like to go to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to see their rockets.”

How the “registration” is done

Each asteroid whose existence has been confirmed gets a discovery serial number. Until this is done, it is given a provisional number consisting of the year of discovery, a two-letter code indicating the week of the time the discovery was made, and one or two numbers if more than one asteroid was discovered in the same week. After verifying its trajectory, its code consists of the serial in parentheses followed by the temporary number, e.g. (3360) 1981 VA, which was also the first asteroid for which no name was used. The serial number is usually used in conjunction with the name of the asteroid, when it exists.

In the early years of their discovery, asteroids were taking over names of Greek or Roman deities, or other mythological figures. However, due to their number, astronomers at some point ran out of names. Because the choice of asteroid’s name belongs to the one who discovered it, and because there are so many in the crowd, astronomers often give city names, their own names, those of their children, or even a pet. There are asteroids with names taken from movies and TV series, such as 13681 Monty Python, 9007 James Bond, 9777 Enterprise and 2309 Mr. Spock, famous singers such as 4147 Lennon and 4148 McCartney and celebrities such as 1772 Gagarin, 5535 Anfrank, 6354 Vangelis and 7100 Martin Luther.

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