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Organization Won't Rename Star Bearing Putin Slur

Published: July 5, 2014 (Issue # 1818)



  • A certificate showing the adoption of a star named 'Putin-Huilo!'
    Photo: Pale Blue Dot Project

Pale Blue Dot, the organization through which a group of Ukrainian astronomers named a star "Putin-Huilo!," or "Putin is a d*ckhead!," has no plans to rescind the name after discovering its true meaning, the group's founder told The St. Petersburg Times by phone on Friday.

The star, officially designated as KIC 9696936, was adopted through the Pale Blue Dot project, which allows anyone to name a star for a minimum of $10. The proceeds support the research efforts of the White Dwarf Research Corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to space research and public education.

"Free speech is now written in the stars," project founder Travis Metcalfe said, pointing out this is not the first time that people have exchanged jabs through their star-naming service.

"We have no plans to censor any of these star adoptions. We appreciate the support for science," Metcalfe added.

The Ukrainian astronomers who named the star drew their inspiration from former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia, who used the disparaging term to describe Russian President Vladimir Putin during a disorderly protest outside the Russian Embassy in Kiev in June.

Metcalfe said the group named the star some time ago, but only recently did the meaning of the name come to light.

"It says Putin is a d*ckhead, but in Ukrainian — so we didn't recognize what it actually said. I wasn't familiar with the term huilo," Metcalfe said. The group only realized what it meant after the Ukrainian astronomers began to publicize their exploits online.

Although Pale Blue Dot keeps its own database, it is the International Astronomical Union that keeps the official record of star names.

"We are actually astronomers, so we know that people cannot name stars," Travis Metcalfe told The St. Petersburg Times by phone on Friday, adding "there's lots of companies out there that do this."

The difference between Pale Blue Dot and the many star-naming services is that "we are the ones that are doing it for science," Metcalfe said, noting the proceeds from the project go toward astronomical research.

The "Putin huilo" slogan, popular among football fans in Ukraine, has became a catchphrase in the aftermath of Russia's annexation of Crimea and has been featured in music videos and printed on an array of T-shirts and accessories.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Sept. 15


Angelic music will ring out in the city during this week’s Third International Harp Competition. Hosted by the Shostakovich Philharmonic in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the country’s best musicians with 40 to 47 strings will convene to find out who’s best.



Tuesday, Sept. 16


Lenexpo plays host to Tekhnodrev, a three-day convention that focuses on the woodworking industry in Russia. Promoting the latest technologies and trends, the event features not only exhibitors from some of Russia’s largest woodworking companies but representatives of the forestry industry, who will have their own coinciding forum.


Parlez-vous français? We don’t here at The St. Petersburg Times but that doesn’t mean you can’t. Join the British Book Center’s French Club meeting this evening at 6 p.m. in their location near Technologichesky Institut metro station.



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