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Hi'iaka, one of the daughters of Haumea, was the patron goddess of hula dancers.
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Haumea - Hawaiian Goddess

Haumea was the goddess of childbirth and fertility in Hawaiian mythology. Her children included the volcano and fire goddess Pele, the sea goddess Namaka, and Hi'iaka - the patron goddess of hula dancers.

In one Hawaiian myth, Haumea's children were born by springing forth from various parts of the body of their mother. Hi'iaka sprang from Haumea's mouth, while Namaka came from her mother's thigh.

Haumea is also the name astronomers have given to a dwarf planet in our Solar System. The dwarf planet's moons bear the names of two of Haumea's children, Hi'iaka and Namaka.

There are several connections between the myth of Haumea and the dwarf planet and its moons. Astronomers think Haumea may have collided with another large object a long time ago. It is possible that debris from this collision coalesced to form Haumea's moons. If so, the scientific story matches the myth, as the "children" (moons) of Haumea did indeed "spring forth from" the "body" of their "mother" (the dwarf planet).

The goddess Haumea also represents the "element" of stone. The dwarf planet Haumea appears to contain more rocky material than is the case for most Kuiper Belt Objects, which are often richer in ice. Thus the dwarf planet mimics its namesake in this regard as well.

Finally, one of the groups involved with the discovery of the dwarf planet used telescopes in Hawaii to observe this faint, distant object. It is therefore quite appropriate that Haumea bears a name from Hawaiian mythology!

Last modified October 8, 2008 by Randy Russell.

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