Zhang Yuzhe

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Zhang Yuzhe
Traditional Chinese 張鈺哲
Simplified Chinese 张钰哲
Asteroids discovered: 1 [1]
3789 Zhongguo October 25, 1928 MPC[2]

Zhang Yuzhe (Chinese: 张钰哲) (16 February 1902 – 21 July 1986) was a Chinese astronomer and director of the Purple Mountain Observatory, who is widely regarded as the father of modern Chinese astronomy.[3][4] He studied the light curves of asteroids and thus their rotation periods, and also studied the variable star CZ Cassiopeiae, and the evolution of the orbit of Comet Halley. He discovered 3 comets and is credited under the name Y. C. Chang by the Minor Planet Center for the discovery of one minor planet,[1] the outer main-belt asteroid 3789 Zhongguo.[5]

He was born in Minhou, Fujian province. In 1919, he entered Tsinghua University and graduated in 1923. That same year he went to the United States and, in 1925, entered the University of Chicago and got his Ph.D. in 1929. That same year he returned to China and took up a teaching post at National Central University.

While studying in Chicago in 1928, he discovered an asteroid, which was given the provisional designation 1928 UF and later the number 1125. He named it "China" or "中華" (Zhōnghuá). However, this asteroid was "lost", that is, it was not observed beyond its initial appearance and a precise orbit could not be calculated (see lost asteroids). In 1957, the Purple Mountain Observatory in China discovered a new asteroid, and with his agreement the new object 1957 UN1 was reassigned the official designation 1125 China in place of the lost 1928 UF. However, in 1986, the newly discovered object 1986 QK1 was confirmed to be a rediscovery of the original 1928 UF, and this object was named 3789 Zhongguo. Note "中国" (Zhōngguó) is the Mandarin Chinese word for "China", in pinyin transliteration, and Zhōnghuá is a slightly older word for "China".

From 1941 to 1950, he was head of the astronomy research institute at National Central University. From 1946 to 1948, he once again went to the United States to study variable stars. From 1950 to 1984, he was director of Purple Mountain Observatory, and, from 1955 on, he was a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

He devoted himself to observing and calculating the orbits of minor planets and comets. Many asteroids were discovered at Purple Mountain Observatory, as well as three new comets: two periodic, 60P/Tsuchinshan (Tsuchinshan 2) and 62P/Tsuchinshan (Tsuchinshan 1), and one non-periodic, C/1977 V1. Tsuchinshan is the Wade-Giles transliteration corresponding to the pinyin Zĭjīn Shān, which is Mandarin Chinese for "Purple Mountain".

The lunar crater Zhang Yuzhe and the main-belt asteroid 2051 Chang are named after him.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Minor Planet Discoverers (by number)". Minor Planet Center. 20 June 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2016. 
  2. ^ Note: Originally called 1125 China, but that name was reassigned
  3. ^ http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1987S&T....73Q.481. accessed 3 October 2006
  4. ^ a b Schmadel, Lutz D. (2007). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (2051) Chang. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 166. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3. Retrieved 7 August 2016. 
  5. ^ "3789 Zhongguo (1928 UF)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 7 August 2016.