Posts by Bob Trembley

In the Sky this Week – June 27, 2017
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Venus remains high in the eastern morning sky, the Pleiades star cluster appears between Venus and the star Capella.

Venus and the Pleiades

Venus and the Pleiades in the eastern pre-dawn sky at 5 AM on June 27, 2017. Image credit: Stellarium / Bob Trembley

The Moon is a waxing crescent, appearing in the west after sunset.

Waxing Crescent Moon

Waxing Crescent Moon in the western sky at 10 PM on June 27, 2017. Image credit: Stellarium / Bob Trembley

Jupiter is high in the southwest, and Saturn is low in the southeast sky after sunset.

Saturn and Jupiter

Saturn and Jupiter in the southern skies at 10 PM on June 27, 2017. Image credit: Stellarium / Bob Trembley

There will be a conjunction of the Moon, Jupiter and the star Spica on the evenings of June 30th and July 1st.

Conjunction of The Moon, Jupiter and Spica

Conjunction (Day 1) of The Moon, Jupiter and Spica at 10 PM on June 30, 2017. Image credit: Stellarium / Bob Trembley

Conjunction of The Moon, Jupiter and Spica

Conjunction (Day 2) of The Moon, Jupiter and Spica at 10 PM on July 1, 2017. Image credit: Stellarium / Bob Trembley

Here is the current positions of the planets in the solar system:

The Solar System June 27 2017

The Solar System June 27, 2017. Image credit: NASA Eyes on the Solar System / Bob Trembley

Could “Planet Nine” be Considered a Planet?
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Planet Nine Location

Possible location for hypothesized Planet Nine. Credit: Universe Sandbox ²/ Bob Trembley

I got to wondering: given the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) current definition of a planet, if a hypothesized "Planet Nine" were to be found in the outer reaches of our solar system, could it (or anything in that region) be considered "a planet?"

The IAU definition of a planet is a celestial body that:
(a) is in orbit around the Sun.
(b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape.
(c) has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.

An astronomical units (AU) is a unit of measurement equal to the mean distance from the center of the earth to the center of the sun - 149.6 million kilometers.

The Kuiper belt is a disc-shaped region of icy bodies in the solar system - including dwarf planets such as Pluto - and comets beyond the orbit of Neptune. It extends from about 30 to 55 AU.

A trans-Neptunian object (TNO) is any minor planet in the Solar System that orbits the Sun at a greater average distance (semi-major axis) than Neptune - 30 AU.

The Oort cloud as a hypothesized bubble of icy debris that surrounds our solar system. This distant cloud may extend a third of the way from our sun to the next star - between 5,000 and 100,000 AU.

The hypothesized location of "Planet Nine" is around 500 and 1200 AU; images I've seen all place it in a highly elliptical orbit, pretty near to the ecliptic plane. That puts it out in the trans-Neptunian region, and well into the Kuiper belt. The hypothesized mass of "Planet Nine" is ten times that of Earth, making it much larger than the typical size of trans-Neptunian objects.

The question is: with the existence of the Kuiper Best, and the pretty good chance that the Oort cloud exists, can any object out past Neptune ever be classified as a planet, given the requirement that a planet clear its neighborhood?

Oort Cloud Illustration. Credit: laurinemoreau.com

A related issue is that under the current IAU definition of a planet, exoplanets and satellites in orbit of brown dwarfs cannot be considered planets; I'd suggest a slight rewording to state that a planet must be "planetary mass object in orbit of a stellar or sub-stellar mass parent body."

More Reading:

In the Sky this Week – June 22, 2017
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The planet Venus appears high in the eastern morning sky; the bright star Capella, to the northwest, is the last star to fade with the oncoming dawn.

5 AM June 22 2017 Eastern Sky

Venus high in the eastern pre-dawn sky at 5 AM on June 22, 2017. Venus' orbit is shown in red. Image credit: Stellarium / Bob Trembley

The waning crescent Moon will vanish amid the morning haze to the east, to reappear in the west as a waxing crescent after dusk on June 25th.

9 PM June 25 2017 Western Sky

Crescent Moon appears after dusk in the western sky on June 25, 2017. Image credit: Stellarium / Bob Trembley

The Summer Triangle is an asterism formed from the three stars Altair, Deneb, and Vega, the brightest stars in the three constellations of Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra. They can be see in the eastern sky before midnight.

11 PM June 22 2017 Eastern Sky

The Summer Triangle rises in the eastern sky before midnight on June 22, 2017. Image credit: Stellarium / Bob Trembley

Jupiter is high in the southwestern sky after dusk, and sets in the west around 1:30 AM. Saturn appears high in the southeastern sky after dusk, is at its highest around midnight, and sets in the southwest just before dawn.

11 PM June 22 2017 South-Western Sky

Jupiter and Saturn high in the southern skies at 11 PM on June 22, 2017. Jupiter and Saturn's orbits are shown in red. Image credit: Stellarium / Bob Trembley

Directly overhead, the Milky Way flows through the constellations Cygnus and Aquila (if you live in a city - trust me, it's really there... drive out of the city at night and have a look!). The constellation Cygnus contains a smaller and easy-to-spot asterism known as the Northern Cross.

Overhead at 11 PM on June 22, 2017

Several constellations and deep-sky objects are directly overhead at 11 PM on June 22, 2017. Image credit: Stellarium / Bob Trembley

The bright star Vega, part of the Summer Triangle, draws the eye to a fainter set of four stars in the shape of a parallelogram forming the constellation Lyra, Opposite Vega, on the short length of the parallelogram, lies an astronomical treat for the telescopic observer - M57, The Ring Nebula.

M57 Position

Position of M57 - The Ring Nebula in Lyra. Image credit: Stellarium / Bob Trembley

In a small telescope, the Ring Nebula appears as a hazy greenish ring; using a much larger orbiting space telescope, it's rather more spectacular!

M57 The Ring Nebula

M57, The Ring Nebula in Lyra. Image Credit: NASA/Hubble Heritage

Constellation-hopping from Cygnus through Lyra, we come upon the constellation Hercules; the core stars of Hercules form a trapezoid. On the widest edge of that trapezoid, farthest from Vega, is M13, the Great Cluster in Hercules.

M13 Position

Position of M13 - The Great Cluster in Hercules. Image credit: Stellarium / Bob Trembley

M13 appears as a fuzz-ball in smaller telescopes, but in larger 'scopes, individual stars resolve, and many sparkle like diamonds - it's absolutely gorgeous!

Hubble image of M13

Hubble catches an instantaneous glimpse of many hundreds of thousands of stars moving about in the globular cluster M13, one of the brightest and best-known globular clusters in the northern sky. This glittering metropolis of stars is easily found in the winter sky in the constellation Hercules. This image is a composite of archival Hubble data taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys. Observations from four separate science proposals taken in November 1999, April 2000, August 2005, and April 2006 were used. The image includes broadband filters that isolate light from the blue, visible, and infrared portions of the spectrum. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Zoomable image of M13

Kepler Team Releases Catalog with 219 new Exoplanet Candidates
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Artist's concept of a mini-planetary system. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The story of the Kepler space telescope is a saga of discovery, heartbreak, and redemption. Launched in 2009, Kepler's mission was to search for Earth-size and smaller planets orbiting nearby stars, and to estimate how many stars in the Milky Way have such planets. Within the first few weeks of observations, five previously unknown exoplanets were found orbiting close to their parent star. Over the next few years, thousands of planetary candidates were discovered.

In July of 2012, one of the telescope's four reaction wheels failed; these are a type of flywheel that keep the spacecraft pointed at its target, and the telescope needs three to function properly. In May of 2013 a second reaction wheel failed, ending new data collection for the original mission and putting the continuation of the mission into jeopardy.

In November of 2013, a new mission plan dubbed K2 "Second Light" was devised - by balancing "light pressure" from the Sun on spacecraft's solar panels to act as a virtual reaction wheel, and using the two remaining working reaction wheels, the spacecraft would be able to continue collecting data. In early 2014 this method was successfully tested, and in March of 2014 data collection resumed.

The conception illustration depicts how solar pressure can be used to balance NASA's Kepler spacecraft, keeping the telescope stable enough to continue monitoring distant stars in search of transiting planets. Image credit: NASA Ames/W Stenzel

On June 19, 2017, the Kepler team announced the discovery of 50 potentially habitable planets orbiting nearby stars, and the unexpected statistic that smaller planets seem to fall into two distinct size categories: Earth/Super-Earth size, and mini-Neptunes.

The K2 mission is funded through the end of 2019; on-board fuel is expected to be depleted by that time. Data analysis will likely continue for quite some time.


Kepler Space Telescope. Credit: NASA Eyes on the Solar System / Bob Trembley

NASA/JPL Press Release 2017-168:
NASA's Kepler space telescope team has released a mission catalog of planet candidates that introduces 219 new candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and orbiting in their star's habitable zone, which is the range of distance from a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of a rocky planet.

This is the most comprehensive and detailed catalog release of candidate exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, from Kepler's first four years of data. It's also the final catalog from the spacecraft's view of the patch of sky in the Cygnus constellation.

With the release of this catalog, derived from data publicly available on the NASA Exoplanet Archive, there are now 4,034 planet candidates identified by Kepler. Of those, 2,335 have been verified as exoplanets. Of roughly 50 near-Earth size habitable zone candidates detected by Kepler, more than 30 have been verified.

Additionally, results using Kepler data suggest two distinct size groupings of small planets. Both results have significant implications for the search for life. The final Kepler catalog will serve as the foundation for more study to determine the prevalence and demographics of planets in the galaxy, while the discovery of the two distinct planetary populations shows that about half the planets we know of in the galaxy either have no surface, or lie beneath a deep, crushing atmosphere -- an environment unlikely to host life.

The findings were presented at a news conference Monday at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley.

"The Kepler data set is unique, as it is the only one containing a population of these near Earth-analogs - planets with roughly the same size and orbit as Earth," said Mario Perez, Kepler program scientist in the Astrophysics Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "Understanding their frequency in the galaxy will help inform the design of future NASA missions to directly image another Earth."

The Kepler space telescope hunts for planets by detecting the minuscule drop in a star's brightness that occurs when a planet crosses in front of it, called a transit.

This is the eighth release of the Kepler candidate catalog, gathered by reprocessing the entire set of data from Kepler's observations during the first four years of its primary mission. This data will enable scientists to determine what planetary populations -- from rocky bodies the size of Earth, to gas giants the size of Jupiter -- make up the galaxy's planetary demographics.

To ensure a lot of planets weren't missed, the team introduced their own simulated planet transit signals into the data set and determined how many were correctly identified as planets. Then, they added data that appear to come from a planet, but were actually false signals, and checked how often the analysis mistook these for planet candidates. This work told them which types of planets were overcounted and which were undercounted by the Kepler team's data processing methods.

"This carefully-measured catalog is the foundation for directly answering one of astronomy's most compelling questions - how many planets like our Earth are in the galaxy?" said Susan Thompson, Kepler research scientist for the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, and lead author of the catalog study.

One research group took advantage of the Kepler data to make precise measurements of thousands of planets, revealing two distinct groups of small planets. The team found a clean division in the sizes of rocky, Earth-size planets and gaseous planets smaller than Neptune. Few planets were found between those groupings.

This diagram illustrates how planets are assembled and sorted into two distinct size classes. First, the rocky cores of planets are formed from smaller pieces. Then, the gravity of the planets attracts hydrogen and helium gas. Finally, the planets are "baked" by the starlight and lose some gas. At a certain mass threshold, planets retain the gas and become gaseous mini-Neptunes; below this threshold, the planets lose all their gas, becoming rocky super-Earths. Image credit: NASA/Ames Research Center/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt

Using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, the group measured the sizes of 1,300 stars in the Kepler field of view to determine the radii of 2,000 Kepler planets with exquisite precision.

"We like to think of this study as classifying planets in the same way that biologists identify new species of animals," said Benjamin Fulton, doctoral candidate at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, and lead author of the second study. "Finding two distinct groups of exoplanets is like discovering mammals and lizards make up distinct branches of a family tree."

It seems that nature commonly makes rocky planets up to about 75 percent bigger than Earth. For reasons scientists don't yet understand, about half of those planets take on a small amount of hydrogen and helium that dramatically swells their size, allowing them to "jump the gap" and join the population closer to Neptune's size.

The population of exoplanets detected by the Kepler mission (yellow dots) compared to those detected by other surveys using various methods: radial velocity (light blue dots), transit (pink dots), imaging (green dots), microlensing (dark blue dots), and pulsar timing (red dots). For reference, the horizontal lines mark the sizes of Jupiter, Neptune and Earth, all of which are displayed on the right side of the diagram. The colored ovals denote different types of planets: hot Jupiters (pink), cold gas giants (purple), ocean worlds and ice giants (blue), rocky planets (yellow), and lava worlds (green). The shaded gray triangle at the lower right marks the exoplanet frontier that will be explored by future exoplanet surveys. Kepler has discovered a remarkable quantity of exoplanets and significantly advanced the edge of the frontier. Image credit: NASA/Ames Research Center/Natalie Batalha/Wendy Stenzel

The Kepler spacecraft continues to make observations in new patches of sky in its extended mission, searching for planets and studying a variety of interesting astronomical objects, from distant star clusters to objects such as the TRAPPIST-1 system of seven Earth-size planets, closer to home.

Ames manages the Kepler missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Highlighted are new planet candidates from the eighth Kepler planet candidate catalog that are less than twice the size of Earth and orbit in the stars' habitable zone – the range of distances from a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The dark green area represents an optimistic estimate for the habitable zone, while the brighter green area represents a more conservative estimate for the habitable zone. The candidates are plotted as a function of their stars' surface temperature on the vertical axis and by the amount of energy the planet candidate receives from its host star on the horizontal axis. Brighter yellow circles show new planet candidates in the eighth catalog, while pale yellow circles show planet candidates from previous catalogs. Blue circles represent candidates that have been confirmed as planets due to follow-up observations. The sizes of the colored disks indicate the sizes of these exoplanets relative to one another and to the image of Earth, Venus and Mars, placed on this diagram for reference. Note that the new candidates tend to be around stars more similar to the sun – around 5,800 Kelvin – representing progress in finding planets that are similar to the Earth in size and temperature that orbit sun-like stars. Image credit: NASA/Ames Research Center/Wendy Stenzel

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/kepler

News Media Contacts

Elizabeth Landau
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6425
elizabeth.landau@jpl.nasa.gov

Felicia Chou
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-0257
felicia.chou@nasa.gov

Michele Johnson
Ames Research Center, California's Silicon Valley
650-604-6882
michele.johnson@nasa.gov


Further Reading:

Stellar Radiation Pressure: http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Starlog/staradpre.html
NASA Exoplanet Archive: https://exoplanetarchive.ipac.caltech.edu
Kepler Mission Homepage: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/main/index.html
Kepler Mission on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler_(spacecraft)
Educational Resources: https://www.nasa.gov/kepler/education
Citizen Science Projects: https://www.nasa.gov/kepler/education/citizen

Asteroid Day 2017
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Asteroid Day LogoIt's June, Asteroid Day approaches!

Asteroid Day is a global coalition of scientists, astronauts, physicists, artists, musicians and concerned citizens that have come together to focus the world’s attention on the nature of asteroids, and the solutions that could protect all life on Earth from future asteroid impacts, and inspire the next generation.

Flattened trees at the Tunguska site. Credit: Leonid Kulik

Since the summer of 2015, worldwide Asteroid Day events have been held on June 30th, the date of the historic Tunguska Impact Event of 1908.

The founders of Asteroid Day drafted the 100X Declaration. In short:

  • Over the last decade and a half, we've discovered a LOT of near-Earth asteroids, and continue to do so.
  • Some of these asteroids can potentially impact the Earth.
  • Some of these asteroids are large enough that an impact would be "a bad thing."
  • We need to accelerate the discovery and tracking of Near-Earth Asteroids to 100,000 per year within the next ten years.
  • We need to get government, private and philanthropic organizations involved.
  • We seek to have Asteroid Day adopted as a globally recognized event.

Asteroid Day is supported by over 200 notable scientists, astronauts, business leaders, artists, Nobel Laureates and by tens of thousands of private citizens. YOU can read and sign the Asteroid Day declaration as a private citizen here: https://asteroidday.org/declaration/ (I did).

Cumulative number of known Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) versus time.

I wrote about Asteroid Day last year; what's changed since June 2016? Quite a bit, actually:

    • The United Nations General Assembly has officially declared June 30th as the International Asteroid Day!
    • NASA and FEMA held an Asteroid Emergency Planning Exercise on Oct. 25, 2016.
    • JPL researcher Davide Farnocchia developed the Scout software to help quickly identify potentially dangerous asteroids, and automatically call for follow-up observations to calculate a more precise path for these bodies.
NASA's Psyche mission

Artist's-concept of NASA's Psyche mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin

  • The Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) Mission is an international collaboration among the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA, Observatoire de la Côte d´Azur (OCA), and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL). AIDA will be first demonstration of the kinetic impact technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space. Unfortunately, on Dec. 2, 2016 the ESA member states declined funding for the mission; NASA says it will continue with the mission.
  • NASA selected two asteroid missions for the Discovery Program missionLucy will visit Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, and Psyche will study metal asteroid 16 Psyche.
  • The ESA Gaia mission, while mapping a billion stars in our galaxy, can't help seeing asteroids too. Using data provided by Gaia's observations of known asteroids, scientists have been able to characterize the physical properties and orbits of these asteroids more precisely than ever before.
  • NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission launched on Sept. 6th on its way to asteroid 101955 Bennu.
  • A Space.com article from January 5, 2017 mentions the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy - which sounds like a pretty good thing to have. As I was writing this article, I followed the link in the Space.com article to the White House post, and found this:
White House Asteroid Preparedness Strategy

White House Asteroid Preparedness Strategy

I searched for the original document in the Obama Archive, and found the Strategy PDF here.

How much is going to happen in the area of planetary defense between now and Asteroid Day 2018? If the current pace continues, I would imagine quite a bit!

Asteroid Day will be broadcasting LIVE from Luxembourg during this year's event:

Asteroid Day LIVE will be the first-ever 24-hour live broadcast about space, and specifically asteroids, airing on June 30, 2017 made possible by support from OHB, SES, BCE and the Luxembourg Government. Asteroid Day LIVE includes six hours from Luxembourg in addition to live programming from ESA, JAXA and NASA. The six-hour broadcast from Luxembourg plus hours of other international programming is creating a global conversation about some of the most important asteroid missions and new discoveries, with scientists and experts around the world.

Asteroid Day Live

Newly Named Asteroids: Apr. 13, 2017, Part 1
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Image of Asteroid 4 Vesta

Asteroid 4 Vesta. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA

The April 2017 IAU Minor Planet Center circular was filled with over 190 newly named asteroids - more than I've ever seen before in a MPC circular! And that's pretty much all that was in the circular! The May 2017 circular was devoid of newly named asteroids.

Since there are so many names in the April circular, I'm splitting it up into several posts. In this portion, some notable names include: science fiction author Philip K. Dick, poet and author Maya Angelou, activist Lilly Ledbetter, and the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli. Several astronomers, scientists and employees at the Lowell Observatory got asteroids named after them. Some notable locations that got named asteroids include: the Benedictine Abbey in Weltenburg, Ojmjakon - the coldest city on earth, and the French city of Angers.

(9004) Peekaydee = 1982 UZ2
Discovered 1982 Oct. 22 by G. Aldering at Kitt Peak.
Philip Kindred Dick (1928–1982) was an American science fiction author. His short stories and novels explored philosophical, sociological and political themes, often questioning what it meant to be human. Many of his works have been made into movies, such as Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report.

Maya Angelou receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Barack Obama presenting Maya Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Feb. 2011. Credit: Office of the White House

(9011) Angelou = 1984 SU
Discovered 1984 Sept. 20 by A. Mrkos at Kleť.
Maya Angelou (1928–2014), born Marguerite Annie Johnson, was an American poet, author, and civil rights activist. She came to fame with her first autobigraphical book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Six more autobiographies followed, and many other books of essays and poetry, as well as plays, movies, and TV shows.

 

(19331) Stefanovitale = 1996 XL33
Discovered 1996 Dec. 4 by M. Tombelli and C. Casacci at Cima Ekar.
Stefano Vitale (b. 1951) is a full professor of Physics at University of Trento. He is the PI of the LISA Technology Package payload on board the LISA Pathfinder mission of the ESA, launched in 2015 as a precursor to a space-borne gravitational wave observatory.

(21054) Ojmjakon = 1990 VL5
Discovered 1990 Nov. 15 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.
The coldest city on earth, Ojmjakon, lies in the Republic of Yakutia (Siberia, Russia), in the valley of the upper Indigirka river, at 740 metres above sea level. With an average temperature of -48°C in January, it has a lowest record of -70°C.

Oymyakon

Near Oymyakon in Yakutia, Russia. You're cold just looking at this photo, aren't you? Credit: Maarten Takens / Creative Commons

(22406) Garyboyle = 1995 QW5
Discovered 1995 Aug. 22 by Spacewatch at Kitt Peak.
Gary Boyle (b. 1957) is a Canadian amateur astronomer who leads club activities, runs outreach events, teaches a college course and writes a stargazing column. Name suggested by R. and P. Jedicke.

(22498) Willman = 1997 LY2
Discovered 1997 June 5 by Spacewatch at Kitt Peak.
Mark Willman (b. 1952) received his Ph.D. in planetary astronomy from the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy and began working with Pan-STARRS1 in 2013. Name suggested by R. and P. Jedicke.

(25159) Michaelwest = 1998 SN57
Discovered 1998 Sept. 17 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station.
Michael West (b. 1959) is the Deputy Director for Science at Lowell Observatory. His research focuses on star clusters and galaxies. He was PI for six Hubble Space Telescope projects and has authored two books, including A Sky Wonderful with Stars. 
Follow Dr. West on Twitter: https://twitter.com/curatedcosmos

(25160) Joellama = 1998 SN58
Discovered 1998 Sept. 17 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station.
Joseph “Joe” Llama (b. 1988) is a tenure track astronomer at Lowell Observatory. He started at Lowell as a postdoc working with Evgenia Shkolnik. His research is broadly focused on stars and extrasolar planets. Joe is also an amateur photographer.

(25161) Strosahl = 1998 SR58
Discovered 1998 Sept. 17 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station.
Susan Strosahl (b. 1960) has been a employee of Lowell Observatory since 2003. She has a degree in computer engineering. She started working in the public program and is currently working as an observer at Lowell’s Navy Precision Optical Interferometer.

(25232) Schatz = 1998 TN33
Discovered 1998 Oct. 14 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station.
Dennis Schatz (b. 1947) is an American astronomer and educator who was Vice-President of the Pacific Science Center, President & workshop leader for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, author of 23 children’s books on science, and codeveloper of educational programs like Project ASTRO & Portal to the Public.

(29439) Maxfabiani = 1997 MQ1
Discovered 1997 June 28 at Farra d’Isonzo.
Maximilian Fabiani (1865–1962), commonly known as Max Fabiani, was a central European architect and urban planner of mixed Italian-Austrian ancestry. He designed remarkable buildings in Vienna, Ljubljana, Trieste and Gorizia.

(30281) Horstman = 2000 HH57
Discovered 2000 Apr. 24 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station.
Helen Horstman (b. 1936) is a long-time employee of Lowell Observatory, starting in 1964 and retiring in 2007. Helen served as observatory secretary, cataloged images from the Planetary Patrol, and became executive secretary to the director. Since retiring, she has volunteered in the library.

Discovery Channel Telescope

The 4.3-meter Discovery Channel Telescope. Credit: Lowell Observatory.

(30524) Mandushev = 2001 MY24
Discovered 2001 June 16 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station.
Georgi Mandushev (b. 1962) is an assistant research scientist at Lowell Observatory who developed the data analysis pipeline that was instrumental in making the TrES exoplanet discoveries. He continues to follow up some TrES targets and is also responsible for the operating software for Lowell’s Discovery Channel Telescope.

(30525) Lenbright = 2001 MX28
Discovered 2001 June 27 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station.
Len Bright (b. 1957) is an observer/technical assistant at Lowell Observatory. He carried out the site characterization observations for Lowell’s Discovery Channel Telescope and has primary responsibility for day-to-day operations at Lowell’s Anderson Mesa site. He is currently extending his efforts into the software area.

(30533) Saeidzoonemat = 2001 OV4
Discovered 2001 July 16 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station.
Saeid Zoonemat Kermani (b. 1962) is a software engineer at Lowell Observatory. He has developed all of the instrument user interface software and much of the instrument control software for Lowell’s Discovery Channel Telescope. His software is also used in airborne work with HIPO on SOFIA.

SOFIA

SOFIA Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy flying over the Sierras with her door open. Credit NASA photo/Jim Ross

(31435) Benhauck = 1999 BH14
Discovered 1999 Jan. 23 by ODAS at Caussols.
Ben Hauck (b. 1978) has been an amateur astronomer for most of his life and is heavily involved in astronomy education and outreach. He is a passionate activist in the fight against climate change.

(32014) Bida = 2000 HL64
Discovered 2000 Apr. 26 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station.
Thomas A. Bida (b. 1959) is an instrument scientist at Lowell Observatory. He has developed instruments for Lowell’s Discovery Channel Telescope and for Lowell’s telescopes at Anderson Mesa. He also actively pursues a program of research on Mercury’s atmosphere.

(41481) Musashifuchu = 2000 QE35
Discovered 2000 Aug. 28 by BATTeRS at Bisei SG Center.
Fuchu is the name of the place where Kokuhu (the ancient Japanese provincial government office) was located. Fuchu City in Tokyo Metropolis has been called Musashi Fuchu, because it was the Kokuhu of the province of Musashi. Its name symbolizes the history and culture of the city.

(41502) Denchukun = 2000 QK147
Discovered 2000 Aug. 23 by BATTeRS at Bisei SG Center.
Denchukun is the official mascot character of Ibara city, Okayama, Japan. Its name originates from Denchu Hirakushi, a sculptor born in Ibara. Its shape represents a star in the famous Kabuki play Kagami-Jishi.

(44039) de Sahagún = 1998 DS33
Discovered 1998 Feb. 27 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.
Bernardino de Sahagún (1499–1590) was a Franciscan missionary who after arriving in Mexico in 1529 researched the indigenous cultures of the country. He believed that in order to convert the Aztecs to Christianity it was necessary to understand their gods.

(52295) Köppen = 1990 VK4
Discovered 1990 Nov. 15 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.
Wladimir Köppen (1846–1940) was a Russian-German botanist-climatologist. He developed the most popular system, still used, for a vegetation-based classification of the climate in different regions, a subdivision of climates into five major types, all but one defined by temperature criteria

Updated world map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. Legend: A-Tropical, B-Arid, C-Temperate, D-Cold, E-Polar. Credit: Peel, M. C., Finlayson, B. L., and McMahon, T. A.

Huitzilopochtli. Credit: Public Domain

(52387) Huitzilopochtli = 1993 OM7
Discovered 1993 July 20 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.
Huitzilopochtli is an Aztec god associated with the sun. His name, meaning “hummingbird of the south” came from the Aztec belief that the spirits of killed warriors followed the sun through the sky during four subsequent years. Thereafter they were transformed into hummingbirds.

(70449) Gruebel = 1999 TK17
Discovered 1999 Oct. 15 by W. D. Bruton and M. L. Johnson at Nacogdoches.
Robert W. Gruebel (1924–2016) was a Professor of Physics at Stephen F. Austin State University, and a mentor, colleague and friend of the discoverer.

(72447) Polińska = 2001 DP
Discovered 2001 Feb. 16 by P. Pravec and L. Šarounová at Ondřejov.
Magdalena Polińska (b. 1981) is an assistant professor researcher at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. She specializes in photometric observations of minor solar system bodies. Her current research interests also include stellar spectroscopy and abundance analysis. Citation provided by T. Michałowski.

(84118) Bracalicioci = 2002 RE26
Discovered 2002 Sept. 3 by F. Bernardi at Campo Imperatore.
Davide Bracali Cioci (b. 1986) is a celestial mechanician who graduated from the University of Pisa. He provides an important contribution in developing software for space dynamics, in particular related to asteroids and impact monitoring activities.

(85196) Halle = 1991 TG3
Discovered 1991 Oct. 4 by F. B ¨orngen and L. D. Schmadel at Tautenburg.
Halle (Saale) in Saxony Anhalt is a large city containing the university of Halle-Wittenberg, the academy of Art and Design, and the Franckesche foundation. It is the native town of Handel.

(85198) Weltenburg = 1991 TC6
Discovered 1991 Oct. 2 by F. B ¨orngen and L. D. Schmadel at Tautenburg.
The famous Benedictine Abbey in Weltenburg on the Danube is the oldest monastery in Bavaria. It was founded around 600 CE and the monks have brewed beer there since 1050. It is the world’s oldest monastic brewery.

View of Weltenburg Abbey, on the Danube. Credit: Octobrist / Creative Commons

(85214) Sommersdorf = 1992 SZ1
Discovered 1992 Sept. 21 by F. Börngen and L. D. Schmadel at Tautenburg.
Sommersdorf is a municipality in the northern part of Bavaria. Every five years since 1968, the Franconian Passion Play has been presented there on an open-air stage with 400 participants, two-thirds of whom live in the municipality.

(85216) Schein = 1992 SL17
Discovered 1992 Sept. 24 by F. Börngen and L. D. Schmadel at Tautenburg.
Johann Herman Schein (1586–1630), born and died in Saxony, was cantor of Leipzig’s Thomanerchor for 16 years. He belongs to the grand three “S” of baroque music in Germany: the three composers Schütz, Schein and Scheidt, were born in 1585, 1586 and 1587, respectively.

(90711) Stotternheim = 1990 TB10
Discovered 1990 Oct. 10 by F. Börngen and L. D. Schmadel at Tautenburg.
Stotternheim is a village near Erfurt, where the young Martin Luther began his study. He travelled to his parents in Mansfeld. On the way back he was surprised by a heavy thunderstorm near Stotternheim. Luther vowed, if he survived, that he would become a monk.

(95951) Ernestopalomba = 2003 QG6
Discovered 2003 Aug. 18 by F. Bernardi at Campo Imperatore.
Ernesto Palomba (b. 1967) is a planetary scientist at INAF-IAPS, active in the research of minor bodies. At the beginning of his career he was a CINEOS survey team member. His main interests are compositional studies of asteroid surfaces by means of hyperspectral images.

(95955) Claragianni = 2003 QX32
Discovered 2003 Aug. 21 by E. Palomba at Campo Imperatore.
Clara Cagnacci (b. 1933) and Giannantonio Palomba (1932–2015) are the parents of the discoverer. They supported the fascination of their son for astronomy from his youth, as an amateur astronomer, to his maturity, when he obtained a permanent position as an astronomer.

(113659) Faltona = 2002 TQ85
Discovered 2002 Oct. 2 by E. Palomba at Campo Imperatore.
Faltona is a rural Tuscan village located in the Pratomagno mountain range. In the past, this area was a popular crossroads dominated by the Abbey of S. Trinit, whose ruins are still present along with a medieval stone bridge.

(117384) Halharrison = 2004 YD16
Discovered 2004 Dec. 18 by Mt. Lemmon Survey at Mount Lemmon.
Hal Harrison (b. 1947) is an amateur astronomer and photographer and has always been fascinated by planetary science and astronomy. His career began with his working on IBM mainframe computers and evolved along with changes in technology. He is presently head driver at Wormhole Racing.

(129982) Jeffseabrook = 1999 UJ45
Discovered 1999 Oct. 31 by the Catalina Sky Survey.
Jeff Seabrook (b. 1976) is part of the altimetry team developing the capability to generate topography and shape models from the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter. Prior to this, he was a graduate student who developed and deployed atmospheric ozone lidars, and part of the MET team on the Phoenix Mars Mission.

Giovanni Battista Lacchini. Credit: Public Domain.

(145962) Lacchini = 1999 YH5
Discovered 1999 Dec. 29 by V. S. Casulli at Colleverde.
Giovanni Battista Lacchini (1884–1967) was an Italian astronomer, noted for his work on variable stars. He published over 100 papers and was a founding member of the AAVSO. A crater on the farside of the moon bears his name.

(166622) Sebastien = 2002 SR15
Discovered 2002 Sept. 27 by NEAT at Palomar.
Sébastien Rodriguez (b. 1976) is an assistant professor at the University of Paris Diderot and specializes in remote sensing of planetary surfaces and atmospheres. Name suggested and citation written by S. Le Mouélic.

(167976) Ormsbymitchel = 2005 GS8
Discovered 2005 Apr. 1 by V. Reddy at Goodricke-Pigott.
Ormsby MacKnight Mitchel (1809–1862) was an astronomer who founded the Cincinnati Observatory and later became director of the Dudley Observatory. He published the first popular journal of astronomy (The Sidereal Messenger) in the United States and confirmed that the star Antares is a double star.

(184318) Fosanelli = 2005 GC1
Discovered 2005 Apr. 2 by C. Rinner at Ottmarsheim.
Patrik Fosanelli (b. 1945) is an active French amateur astronomer , involved in spectroscopy research at the Osenbach Observatory. He promotes the use of spectroscopy by amateur astronomers.

Menorca megalith

A taula on the island of Menorca. Credit: ZenTrowel/Public DOmain

(216295) Menorca = 2007 LX14
Discovered 2007 June 11 at OAM Observatory, La Sagra.
Menorca is the most eastern and northern island of the Balearic Islands (Spain). It was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1993 by UNESCO, and contains important megalithic monuments (navetas, talayots and taulas).

(226672) Kucinskas = 2004 HH5
Discovered 2004 Apr. 16 by K.Černis and J. Zdanavicius at Moletai.
Arunas Kucinskas (b. 1967) is a professor at the Astronomical Observatory of Vilnius University. He is an expert in stellar astronomy, astrochemistry and 3D modeling of atmospheres of red giant stars. He is an author of more than 100 scientific papers and many popular science articles.

(262419) Suzaka = 2006 UK63
Discovered 2006 Oct. 20 by Y. Sorimachi and A. Nakajima at Nyukasa.
Suzaka is a city of about 50 000 inhabitants located in northern Nagano prefecture. In the past it prospered from silk-reeling industries and many traditional Japanese white-walled warehouses remain.

Andalucia Region, Spain

Andalucia Region, Spain. Credit: Google Maps.

(266465) Andalucia = 2007 OH
Discovered 2007 July 16 at OAM Observatory, La Sagra.
Andalucia (Andalusia) is an autonomous Spanish community with the largest number of inhabitants spread out over 80,000 km2. The community is key to the history of southern Europe, and its ports were essential to the discovery and exploration of America.

(293383) Maigret = 2007 EZ38
Discovered 2007 Mar. 11 by B. Christophe at Saint-Sulpice.
Jules Maigret, French police detective and Commissaire a la Brigade Criminelle de Paris, was a character created by writer Georges Simenon in 1931.

(303265) Littmann = 2004 RH111
Discovered 2004 Sept. 8 by J. W. Young at Wrightwood.
Mark Littmann (b. 1939) is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Tennessee, where he holds the Julia G. & Alfred G. Hill Chair of Excellence in Science, Technology, and Medical Writing. He is also the author of many astronomy related texts.

(304788) Cresques = 2007 NZ1
Discovered * 2007 July 13 at OAM Observatory, La Sagra.
Cresques Abraham (1325–1387) was a Majorcan Jewish geographer and cartographer. His Catalan Atlas (1375), stored in the Bibliotheque National de Paris, is considered one of the pinnacles of medieval cartographic knowledge.

Henri Edmond Cross

Self-Portrait with Cigarette - Henri Edmond Cross. Public Domain

(321485) Cross = 2009 SK19
Discovered 2009 Sept. 18 by B. Christophe at Saint-Sulpice.
Henri-Edmond Cross (1856–1910), born Henri-Edmond-Joseph Delacroix, was a French painter and printmaker. He is most acclaimed as a master of Neo-Impressionism, and he played an important role in shaping the second phase of that movement.

Vivant Denon

Self-portrait by French engraver, writer, art historian and administrator Vivant Denon. Public Domain.

(324925) Vivantdenon = 2007 WO1
Discovered 2007 Nov. 17 by B. Christophe at Saint-Sulpice.
Dominique Vivant Baron Denon (1747–1825) was a French artist, writer, diplomat, author, and archaeologist. He was appointed as the first Director of the Louvre museum by Napoleon after the Egyptian campaign.

(330455) Anbrysse = 2007 EV31
Discovered * 2005 Nov. 9 by P. De Cat at Uccle.
This name is dedicated to the people who lost their fight, those who are still fighting and the ones who will have to fight cancer. It is named after An Brysse (b. 1969), the most successful participant in 2016 of the fund-raising event “Loop naar de maan” (“Run to the moon”) for Belgian cancer research.

(331105) Giselher = 2009 XG9
Discovered 2009 Dec. 13 by R. Kracht at Sonoita (IRO).
Dietrich Giselher Kracht (b. 1944) is the elder brother of the discoverer, who introduced him to astronomy at the observatory of the Olbers-Gesellschaft in Bremen.

(355029) Herve = 2006 RH
Discovered 2006 Sept. 1 by C. Rinner at Ottmarsheim.
Jacquinot Herve (b. 1953) is a very enthusiastic French amateur astronomer. He is also a radio ham, a private pilot and a sailor.

(366852) Ti = 2005 RL9
Discovered 2005 Sept. 8 by J. Lacruz at La Cañada.
Teresa (“Ti”) Lacruz Martin (b. 1954) is the eldest sister of the discoverer. She is a law graduate of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and she works as Senior Director of Environment, Health and Safety & Ethics at General Dynamics European Land Systems.

(371220) Angers = 2006 BD8
Discovered 2006 Jan. 22 by J.-C. Merlin at Nogales.
Angers is a city in western France about 300 km southwest of Paris. It is chef-lieu of the Maine-et-Loire department and was, before the French Revolution, the capital of the province of Anjou. In the 5th century BCE, the Celtic people of the Andes settled in the region of Angers and gave it its name.

Angers, Maine-et-Loire, Pays de la Loire, France. The banks of the Maine seen from the Château d'Angers, with the Verdun bridge in the foreground. Credit: Tango7174/Wikimedia Commons

Lilly Ledbetter. Credit: Molly Theobald/Wikimedia Commons

(403563) Ledbetter = 2010 LY97
Discovered 2010 June 13 at WISE.
Lilly Ledbetter (b. 1938) is an American who fights for pay equity. Upon discovering she was being paid less than her male colleagues, she sued her employer (Goodyear). Her case inspired passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009.

(424200) Tonicelia = 2007 NV1
Discovered 2007 July 12 at OAM Observatory, La Sagra.
Antonio Celia Miro (b. 1969) is a Spanish software engineer and advanced amateur astronomer. He built his observatory in 2011, with a self-built computerized mount and an inexpensive 0.15-m Newtonian. He is interested in astrometry, photometry and in pro-am collaborations.

(449922) Bailey = 2015 OM9
Discovered * 2010 June 9 at WISE.
Ronald W. Bailey (b. 1958) supported mission operations for NASA spacecraft including Topex, Jason and WISE/NEOWISE in a career that spanned more than 35 years.

(452307) Manawydan = 1997 XV11
Discovered 1997 Dec. 5 by ODAS at Caussols.
In Welsh mythology, Manawydan ab Llỹr (son of Llỹr) was a scholar, a magician and a peaceful man.

(455739) Isabelita = 2005 JG2
Discovered 2005 May 2 by J. Lacruz at La Cañada.
Isabel Izquierdo Lacruz (b. 1988) is the niece of the discoverer and is a 2012 graduate in sociology from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

(471109) Vladobahýl = 2010 CO12
Discovered 2010 Feb. 12 by S. Kurti at Mayhill.
Vladimír Bahýl (b. 1948), Associate Professor Emeritus at the Technical University in Zvolen, constructed a computed tomography scanner used in dendrology. As an amateur astronomer he is a dedicated observer of variable stars, asteroids and meteors. He built his own observatory named after his granddaughter, Julia.

Source: http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/ECS/MPCArchive/2017/MPC_20170413.pdf

New Cassini Module in NASA Eyes App
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Cassini at Saturn

Cassini at Saturn. Credit: NASA Eyes on the Solar System / Bob Trembley

The new Cassini Mission module is live in the NASA Eyes on the Solar System app! The module is JAM-PACKED with features, including a cinematic simulation the entire 20-year mission, images of Saturn, its rings and moons, an interactive timeline - where you can follow the spacecraft throughout its mission, and simulations of several Cassini Grand Finale events.

2017 Eclipse Detroit

Eclipse 2017 Module. Credit: NASA Eyes on the Solar System / Bob Trembley

NASA Eyes is a free app for the PC/MAC and a GREAT educational tool. With NASA Eyes, you can go to any planet in our solar system, many moons, asteroids, and comets. You can zoom to several different active space missions, and simulate what they are doing in real-time, or fast-forward or backward to any point in their mission; several missions have built-in tours - like Cassini. There's a module about the 2017 eclipse, and the Eyes on the Earth module has several different visualizations of climate data. The Eyes on Exoplanets module lets you zoom to hundreds of different exoplanet systems, see what they look like, and how they compare to the solar system.

Eyes on Exoplanets Hot Jupiter

Eyes on Exoplanets Hot Jupiter. Credit: NASA Eyes on the Solar System / Bob Trembley

NASA Eyes is a wonderful resource for generating images and videos for articles and presentations; it's great fun to play with, but be warned: it seems to somehow warp the flow of time around the observer - you can get so involved playing with the app, you won't realize where the time went! I wrote about NASA Eyes in a previous article here.

More info on the NASA Eyes Cassini module, and download: http://eyes.nasa.gov/cassini

I maintain the unofficial Facebook page for NASA Eyes, and there is an official twitter feed.

Screenshots from the NASA Eyes Cassini module:

Eta Aquariids Meteor Shower 2017
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Eta Aquariids Meteor Shower Radiant. Credit: Stellarium

The Eta Aquariids meteor shower appears strongest when when viewed from the southern tropics. From the equator northward, the shower typically produces only medium rates of 10-30 per hour just before dawn. Meteor activity is good for a week centered the night of peak activity. These meteors travel at a high rate of speed, and produce a good percentage of persistent trains, but few fireballs.

Waxing Gibbous Moon. Credit: Stellarium

Peak: May 6-7th
Active from: April 19th to May 26th
Radiant: 22:32 -1° (see image above)
Hourly Rate: 55
Velocity: 42 miles/sec (swift - 66.9km/sec)
Parent Object: 1P/Halley

The moon will be a waxing gibbous, setting around 4:00 AM.
Source: American Meteor Society

Eta Aquariids Meteor Stream. Credit: Ian Webster.

Meteor. Credit: Creative Commons, CC BY 3.0

Lyrids Meteor Shower 2017
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Lyrids Meteor Shower Radiant

Lyrids Meteor Shower Radiant. Credit: Stellarium

The Lyrids meteor shower is a medium strength shower that typically produces good rates for three nights centered on the maximum. These meteors usually lack persistent trails, but have been known to produce fireballs. This shower is best seen from the northern hemisphere, where the radiant is high in the dawn sky. This shower can be seen from the southern hemisphere, but at a lower rate.

Waning Crescent Moon. Credit: Stellarium

Peak: April 21-22nd
Active from: April 16th to April 25th
Radiant: 18:04 +34° (see image above)
Hourly Rate: 18
Velocity: 30 miles/sec (medium - 48.4km/sec)
Parent Object: C/1861 G1 (Thatcher)

The moon will be a waning crescent, rising shortly before dawn.
Source: American Meteor Society

Meteor. Credit: Creative Commons, CC BY 3.0

Newly Named Asteroids: Mar. 12, 2017
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Asteroid Itokawa. Credit: JAXA

The March 2017 IAU Minor Planet Center circular returned to its regular format, containing: errata, new observatory codes, deleted observations, new identifications, thousands of observation records, and several new names for minor planets.

Numerous finalists from the US who participated in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS math and science competition for middle school students were given named asteroids, as well as Noam Chomsky, the city of Mansfield in Germany, the Mekong and Thames rivers, the Chimborazo volcano, Tai Chi instructor Tam Yiu, and several others.

(624) Hektor I = Skamandrios
Discovered 2006 July 21 by F. Marchis et al.at Mauna Kea.
Skamandrios was the son of Andromache and Hektor, who was a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War.

(7202) Kigoshi = 1995 DX1
Discovered 1995 Feb. 19 at Ojima.
Kunihiko Kigoshi (1919–2014) was a cosmo-geochemist and emeritus professor at Gakushuin University. One of his pioneering works was the development of the radiocarbon dating method, both theoretically and technically. He dated more than twenty thousand geological and archaeological samples from all over the world.

(7605) Cindygraber = 1995 SR1
Discovered 1995 Sept. 21 by T. B. Spahr at Catalina Station.
Cynthia Jean (Volinsky) Graber (b. 1956) is an American psychologist, theatre aficionado, nature lover and rock collector. A steadfast advocate for kindness, compassion and curiosity, she has spent more than 30 years helping adults, children, and
families navigate the human condition with warmth and patience.

(12937) Premadi = 3024 P-L
Discovered 1960 Sept. 24 by C. J. van Houten and I. van Houten-Groeneveld on Palomar Schmidt plates taken by T. Gehrels.
Premana W. Premadi (b. 1964) is an astronomer at the ITB Observatorium Bosscha (Indonesia), an authority on cosmology, and teacher of theoretical astrophysics. Since 2005, she has been a member of the Universe Awareness (UNAWE)
International Team, and is the founder and chair of UNAWE Indonesia (2007–2013).

(16481) Thames = 1990 QU7
Discovered 1990 Aug. 16 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.
The Thames, with a length of nearly 350 km, is the chief river in southern England.

London Thames Sunset panorama - Feb 2008.jpg

River Thames. Credit: David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

(16770) Angkorwat = 1996 UD3
Discovered 1996 Oct. 30 by V. S. Casulli at Colleverde.
Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia, built from the early twelfth century, that is the largest religious archaeological site in the world.

Front side of Angkor Wat Temple main complex

Angkor Wat Temple. Credit: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen / GFDL

(18583) Francescopedani = 1997 XN10
Discovered 1997 Dec. 7 by A. Boattini and M. Tombelli at Cima Ekar.
Francesco Pedani (1953–1998) was an amateur astronomer, biologist and school teacher of science and mathematics. In 1988 he founded the Societ Astronomica Fiorentina, an association of amateur astronomers based in Florence, Italy. He was its first president until his untimely death.

(21033) Akahirakiyozo = 1989 UM
Discovered 1989 Oct. 21 by K. Endate and K. Watanabe at Kitami.
Kiyozo Akahira (b. 1941) is a science historian and an amateur astronomer. He has been a high school teacher of physics for more than 35 years.

(21117) Tashimaseizo = 1992 SB13
Discovered 1992 Sept. 30 by K. Endate and K. Watanabe at Kitami.
Seizo Tashima (b. 1940) is well-known as an author of illustrated books. He has won many national and international prizes for his books and pictures.

(21161) Yamashitaharuo = 1993 TR1
Discovered 1993 Oct. 15 by K. Endate and K. Watanabe at Kitami.
Haruo Yamashita (b. 1937) is the author of more than 500 works including novels and children’s stories. He has been awarded many prizes including the Medal with Purple Ribbon from the Emperor of Japan.

(22366) Flettner = 1993 MT
Discovered 1993 June 21 by Spacewatch at Kitt Peak.
Anton Flettner (1885–1961) was a German aviation engineer and inventor. He made important contributions to airplane and helicopter design. Name suggested by R. Jedicke and P. Jedicke.

2014 June Astrobiology and Theology seminer 04.JPG

David H. Grinspoon. Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0

(22410) Grinspoon = 1995 SS52
Discovered 1995 Sept. 29 by Spacewatch at Kitt Peak.
David Grinspoon (b. 1959), an astrobiologist at the Southwest Research Institute, won the 2006 Carl Sagan Medal and wrote the award-winning book Lonely Planets. Name suggested by R. Jedicke and P. Jedicke.

(22415) HumeIvey = 1995 UB21
Discovered 1995 Oct. 19 by Spacewatch at Kitt Peak
James Nairn Patterson Hume (1923–2013) and Donald Glenn Ivey (b. 1922) were physics educators, best known for their award-winning 1962 film Frames of Reference. Name suggested by R. and P. Jedicke.

(22426) Mikehanes = 1996 AH9
Discovered 1996 Jan. 13 by Spacewatch at Kitt Peak.
Michael Francis Hanes (b. 1959) was a pilot for Air Canada, an amateur astronomer and telescope maker with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, London Centre. Name suggested by R. and P. Jedicke.

(22434) Peredery = 1996 GE6
Discovered 1996 Apr. 11 by Spacewatch at Kitt Peak.
Walter Volodymyr Peredery (b. 1938) is a retired Canadian geologist who studied the Sudbury, Ontario, area and developed the view that it is an impact basin. Name suggested by P. and R. Jedicke.

(22435) Pierfederici = 1996 GN7
Discovered 1996 Apr. 12 by Spacewatch at Kitt Peak.
Francesco Pierfederici (b. 1973) developed software for the Pan-STARRS moving object processing system and Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Name suggested by P. and R. Jedicke.

(23707) Chambliss = 1997 TZ7
Discovered 1997 Oct. 4 by J. Bruton at Chinle.
Carlson R. Chambliss (b. 1941) is an astronomer and Emeritus Professor at Kutztown University in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. He has written books on numismatics, philately, and blackjack, and created and sponsored numerous awards in his name honoring achievements in academia and science, especially astronomy.

Leonard Cohen, 1988 01.jpg

Leonard Cohen. Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0

(24732) Leonardcohen = 1992 CL2
Discovered 1992 Feb. 2 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.
Leonard Cohen (1934–2016) was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist. His song “Suzanne” was one of many that became a hit. He was honored with one of the Prince of Asturias awards. Name suggested by K. Leterme.

(28963) Tamyiu = 2001 FY121
Discovered 2001 Mar. 29 by W. K. Y. Yeung at Desert Beaver.
Tam Yiu (b. 1928), a driving instructor by profession, had inspired thousands of followers who study his teachings in Tai Chi philosophy.

(29449) Taharbenjelloun = 1997 QR2
Discovered 1997 Aug. 29 by V. S. Casulli at Colleverde.
Tahar Ben Jelloun (b. 1944) is a Moroccan writer, poet and essayist, who writes exclusively in French.

Volcán Chimborazo, "El Taita Chimborazo".jpg

Chimborazo Volcano. Credit: David Torres Costales Pictures of Ecuador / CC BY-SA 3.0

(30797) Chimborazo = 1989 CV2
Discovered 1989 Feb. 4 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.
Chimborazo is a volcano in the occident range of the Andes and the highest mountain in Ecuador (6263 m). In 1891, the botanist von Humboldt searched the slopes of the mountain for plants and trees in order to compare them with the vegetation in other continents

(32579) Allendavia = 2001 QJ97
Discovered 2001 Aug. 17 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Davia Elizabeth LeXin Allen (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her animal science project. She attends the Early County Middle School, Blakely, Georgia.

(32580) Avbalasingam = 2001 QY97
Discovered 2001 Aug. 18 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Akhilesh Varadan Balasingam (b. 2003) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for his energy and sustainability project. He attends the Challenger School, San Jose, California.

(32582) Mayachandar = 2001 QW101
Discovered 2001 Aug. 18 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Maya Sruti Chandar (b. 2003) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her animal science project. She attends the Canterbury School, Fort Myers, Florida.

(32590) Cynthiachen = 2001 QF130
Discovered 2001 Aug. 20 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Cynthia Chen (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her environmental and earth sciences project. She attends the Harker School, San Jose, California.

(32593) Crotty = 2001 QK138
Discovered 2001 Aug. 22 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Brendan Joseph Crotty (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for his materials & bioengineering project. He is homeschooled in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

(32594) Nathandeng = 2001 QV141
Discovered 2001 Aug. 24 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Nathan K. Deng (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, amath and science competition for middle school students, for his chemistry project. He attends the Henry E. Huntington Middle School, San Marino, California.

(32603) Ariaeppinger = 2001 QL199
Discovered 2001 Aug. 22 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Aria Rosalee Eppinger (b. 2001) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her medicine and health sciences project. She attends the Winchester Thurston School, Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania.

(32609) Jamesfagan = 2001 QF243
Discovered 2001 Aug. 24 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
James Dana Fagan (b. 2006) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for his physics project. He attends the Alcott Elementary School, Riverside, California.

(32610) Siennafink = 2001 QA245
Discovered 2001 Aug. 24 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Sienna Nicole Fink (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her physics project. She attends the St. Joseph School Fullerton, Baltimore, Maryland.

(32611) Ananyaganesh = 2001 QB253
Discovered 2001 Aug. 25 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Ananya Lakshmi Ganesh (b. 2001) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her medicine and health sciences project. She attends the Westminster Schools, Atlanta, Georgia.

(32612) Ghatare = 2001 QA256
Discovered 2001 Aug. 25 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Adishree Ghatare (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her computer science and software engineering project. She attends the Challenger School, San Jose, California.

(32614) Hacegarcia = 2001 QY266
Discovered 2001 Aug. 20 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Joaquin Hace Garcia (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for his electrical and mechanical engineering project. He attends the Santa Gertrudis School, Kingsville,
Texas.

(32616) Nadinehan = 2001 QH279
Discovered 2001 Aug. 19 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Nadine Han (b. 2003) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her environmental and earth sciences project. She attends the Boston Latin School, Boston, Massachusetts.

(32623) Samuelkahn = 2001 RV23
Discovered 2001 Sept. 7 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Samuel Bennett Kahn (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for his environmental and earth sciences project. He attends the High Tech Middle, San Diego, California.

(32628) Lazorik = 2001 RK70
Discovered 2001 Sept. 10 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Olivia Jane Lazorik (b. 2001) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her animal science project. She attends the Saint Edward’s School, Vero Beach, Florida.

(32630) Ethanlevy = 2001 RZ71
Discovered 2001 Sept. 10 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Ethan Zvi Levy (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for his medicine and health sciences project. He attends the Aventura Waterways K-8 Center, Miami, Florida.

(32631) Majzoub = 2001 RS74
Discovered 2001 Sept. 10 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Omar Majzoub (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for his physics project. He attends the Franklin Fine Arts Center, Chicago, Illinois.

(32634) Sonjamichaluk = 2001 RU103
Discovered 2001 Sept. 12 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Sonja Morgan Simon Michaluk (b. 2003) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her environmental and earth sciences project. She attends the Timberlane Middle School,
Pennington, New Jersey.

(33117) Ashinimodi = 1998 BR12
Discovered 1998 Jan. 23 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Ashini A. Modi (b. 2004) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her physics project. She attends the Caddo Middle Magnet, Shreveport, Louisiana.

(33118) Naiknaware = 1998 BZ12
Discovered 1998 Jan. 23 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Anushka R. Naiknaware (b. 2003) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her materials & bioengineering project. She attends the Stoller Middle School, Portland, Oregon.

(33181) Aalokpatwa = 1998 FN17
Discovered 1998 Mar. 20 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Aalok Nital Patwa (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for his materials & bioengineering project. He attends the Stratford Middle School, San Jose, California.

(33187) Pizzolato = 1998 FD36
Discovered 1998 Mar. 20 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Rachel Michelle Pizzolato (b. 2004) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her energy and sustainability project. She attends the John Curtis Christian School, River
Ridge, Louisiana.

(33188) Shreya = 1998 FC43
Discovered 1998 Mar. 20 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Shreya Ramachandran (b. 2003) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her environmental and earth sciences project. She attends the Stratford Middle School, Fremont, California.

(33189) Ritzdorf = 1998 FK43
Discovered 1998 Mar. 20 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Lucas Lee Ritzdorf (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for his environmental and earth sciences project. He attends the Kalispell Middle School, Kalispell, Montana.

(33190) Sigrest = 1998 FV43
Discovered 1998 Mar. 20 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Eleanor Wren Sigrest (b. 2003) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for her electrical and mechanical engineering project. She attends the Louise A. Benton Middle School, Manassas, Virginia.

(33191) Santiagostone = 1998 FW43
Discovered 1998 Mar. 20 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Santiago Stone (b. 2001) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for his materials & bioengineering project. He attends St. John the Evangelist, Severna Park, Maryland.

(33193) Emhyr = 1998 FO47
Discovered 1998 Mar. 20 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Emhyr Subramanian (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for his chemistry project. He attends the Challenge School, Denver, Colorado.

(33195) Davenyadav = 1998 FO48
Discovered 1998 Mar. 20 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Daven Raymond Yadav (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for his materials & bioengineering project. He attends the Westminster Schools, Atlanta, Georgia.

(33196) Kaienyang = 1998 FX48
Discovered 1998 Mar. 20 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Kaien Yang (b. 2002) is a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students, for his medicine and health sciences project. He attends the Nysmith School for the Gifted and Talented, Herndon, Virginia.

(33197) Charlallen = 1998 FA52
Discovered 1998 Mar. 20 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Charla Allen mentored a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students. She teaches at the Early County Middle School, Blakely, Georgia.

(33198) Mackewicz = 1998 FV52
Discovered 1998 Mar. 20 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Heather Mackewicz mentored a finalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS, a math and science competition for middle school students. She teaches at the Challenger School, San Jose, California.

(39300) Auyeungsungfan = 2001 HM38
Discovered 2001 Apr. 30 by W. K. Y. Yeung at Desert Beaver.
Auyeungsungfan (b. 1959) is a committed and passionate educator who firmly believes in the power of knowledge. Starting as a history teacher 34 years ago, he demonstrated integrity during his 20 years as a school principal.

(40134) Marsili = 1998 QO53
Discovered 1998 Aug. 27 by V. S. Casulli at Colleverde.
The Marsili submarine volcano located in the Mediterranean Sea is the highest and largest in Europe.

(42585) Pheidippides = 1997 FJ1
Discovered 1997 Mar. 30 by V. S. Casulli at Colleverde.
Pheidippides (fl.490 B.C.E.) was a legendary Athenian herald who ran 240 km between the battlefield at Marathon to Athens in two days to report the Greek victory over the Persians. The modern marathon takes its name from this legend.

(48451) Pichincha = 1991 PC3
Discovered 1991 Aug. 2 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.
Pichincha is an active stratovolcano in Ecuador, very close to the capital Quito. In October 1999, one of the peaks, on the western side of the mountain, erupted and covered the city with several inches of ash. The last major eruptions were in 1553 and in 1660.

Noam Chomsky portrait 2015.jpg

Noam Chomsky. Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0

(52270) Noamchomsky = 1988 CH5
Discovered 1988 Feb. 13 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.
Noam Chomsky (b. 1928) is an American linguist and philosopher. An emeritus professor at MIT, he is the author of over 100 books, primarily on linguistics. He is also the co-creator of the universal grammar theory.

(60669) Georgpick = 2000 GE4
Discovered 2000 Apr. 7 by M. Tichý at Kleť.
Georg Alexander Pick (1859–1942), Austrian mathematician who worked in Prague, is best known for his theorem for determining the area of lattice polygons. In 1911 he invited Albert Einstein to Prague and introduced him to the field of absolute differential calculus, which later helped Einstein to formulate general relativity.

(79138) Mansfeld = 1991 RS4
Discovered 1991 Sept. 13 by F. Börngen and L. D. Schmadel at Tautenburg.
Mansfeld is a German town, situated at the border of the Harz Mountains. Martin Luther spent his childhood and youth in this town between 1484 and 1497.

(85190) Birgitroth = 1991 RR3
Discovered 1991 Sept. 12 by F. Börngen and L. D. Schmadel at Tautenburg.
Birgit Roth (b. 1974) is a German physician and well-known expert on hematology and oncology.

(92213) Kalina = 2000 AQ6
Discovered 2000 Jan. 5 by M. Tichý at Kleť.
Antonín Kalina (1902–1990) was a Czech citizen who was imprisoned in Buchenwald concentration camp from 1939 to 1945. As a member of the Communist Underground he saved some 900 children and youths from dangers of daily life in the camp. In 2012 he was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

(100735) Alpomořanská = 1998 DE1
Discovered 1998 Feb. 19 by M. Tichý and J. Tichý at Kleť.
Alžbĕta Pomořanská (or Elizabeth of Pomerania, c.1347–1393) was the fourth and final wife of Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia Charles IV. She bore eight children, including daughter Anne (who married Richard II of England) and son Zikmund (who became Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia and Hungary).

(100934) Marthanussbaum = 1998 MN41
Discovered 1998 June 28 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.
Martha Nussbaum (b. 1947) is an American philosopher at the University of Chicago. She became well known from her many books on philosophy, in particular from her book The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy.

(100936) Mekong = 1998 ME43
Discovered 1998 June 26 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.
The Mekong is a 4350-kilometre river flowing through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Mekong River (Luang Prabang)

Mekong River. Credit: Allie Caulfield / CC BY 2.0

(120643) Rudimandl = 1996 RU
Discovered 1996 Sept. 10 by M. Tichý at Kleť.
Rudi W. Mandl (1894–1948), Czech-German electrical engineer and amateur astronomer, was interested in gravitational lensing. In 1936 he met Albert Einstein and persuaded him to deal with this problem. Einstein then published Lens-Like Action of a Star By the Deviation of Light In the Gravitational Field.

(121469) Sarahaugh = 1999 TW221
Discovered 1999 Oct. 1 by the Catalina Sky Survey.
Sara Haugh (b. 1970) contributed to the NASA OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission as a Software Systems Engineer. Previously, she served as a Software Systems Engineer for the MAVEN Mission, the ISIM FSW Test Lead for the JWST Mission, and a Flight Operations Team member for the Terra and Aqua Missions.

(174281) Lonský = 2002 SC29
Discovered 2002 Sept. 30 by P. Pravec at Ondřejov.
Vladimír Lonský (b. 1953), a heart surgeon, works in the Faculty Hospital in Olomouc, Czech Republic. On top of his great surgical skills, he is highly appreciated for his humane treat of patients.

A profile of Hans Küng smiling

Hans Küng. Credit: CC BY 3.0

(190139) Hansküng = 2005 RV32
Discovered 2005 Sept. 14 by V. S. Casulli at Vallemare Borbona.
Hans Küng (b. 1928) is a Swiss theologian and essayist, and professor emeritus of theology at the Ecumenical University of Tubingen. He was awarded the Knight of the Order of Merit of the State of Baden-Wurttemberg.

(207723) Jiansanjiang = 2007 RC148
Discovered 2007 Sept. 11 by PMO NEO Survey Program at XuYi.
Jiansanjiang, located in the hinterland of Sanjiang Plain, is known as “China Green Rice City”. Its Honghe farm is the first modernized farm in China. The Jiansanjiang people have created the Great Northern Wilderness spirit:“hard work, courage to pioneer, overall situation, selfless dedication”.

(210290) Borsellino = 2007 TE69
Discovered 2007 Oct. 13 by V. S. Casulli at Vallemare Borbona.
Paolo Borsellino (1940–1992) was an Italian magistrate who played a very active role against organized crime.

juliusolsen-large

Dr. Julius Olsen. Credit: Hardin-Simmons University

(221698) Juliusolsen = 2007 DQ63
Discovered 2007 Feb. 21 by R. Holmes at Charleston.
Julius Olsen (b. 1873) was Dean of Hardin-Simmons University (Abilene, TX)
from 1902 until 1940. Over four decades, he taught astronomy and physics to thousands of students, being instrumental in bringing science education to West Texas at the turn of the 20th Century. Suggested by his grandson, N. H. Olsen.

(232409) Dubes = 2003 EU1
Discovered 2003 Mar. 4 at St. V ´eran.
Alain Dubes (1935–2016) was a French amateur astronomer. He liked to go and observe the sky at the Pic du Midi observatory where he made us taste his ‘cannelés, a specialty of cakes from the Bordeaux region.

(248262) Liuxiaobo = 2005 GR128
Discovered 2005 Apr. 4 at Vallemare Borbona.
Liu Xiaobo (b. 1955) received the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his long and non-violent struggle for human rights in China.

(293366) Roux = 2007 EQ9
Discovered 2007 Mar. 9 by B. Christophe at Saint-Sulpice.
Pierre Paul Émile Roux (1853–1933) was a French bacteriologist. He was the closest collaborator of Louis Pasteur.

Gaston Lagaffe

Gaston Lagaffe. Credit: André Franquin

(293985) Franquin = 2007 TF69
Discovered 2007 Oct. 13 by B. Christophe at Saint-Sulpice.
André Franquin (1924–1997) was a Belgian comics artist. He was the creator of the characters Gaston Lagaffe and Marsupilami. He also produced the Spirou and Fantasio strip between 1947 and 1969.

(300928) Uderzo = 2008 CQ72
Discovered 2008 Feb. 9 by B. Christophe at Saint-Sulpice.
Albert Uderzo (b. 1927) is a French comic artist. In collaboration with René Goscinny, he created the character Asterix, a Gaulish hero fighting the Romans.

Mission Apocalypse.jpg

Buck Danny Comic, 1983. Credit: Jean-Michel Charlier and Victor Hubinon / Fair use

(301511) Hubinon = 2009 FJ5
Discovered 2009 Mar. 19 by B. Christophe at Saint-Sulpice.
Victor Hubinon (1924–1979) was a Belgian comic book artist. With Jean-Michel Charlier he created the series Buck Danny.

(316138) Giorgione = 2009 SL170
Discovered 2009 Sept. 26 by B. Christophe at Saint-Sulpice.
Giorgione (1477–1510) was an Italian painter of the Venetian school in the High Renaissance from Venice.

(318682) Carpaccio = 2005 QO30
Discovered* 2005 Aug. 29 by B. Christophe at Saint-Sulpice.
Vittore Carpaccio (1465–1525) was a Venetian painter of the Venetian school, who studied under Gentile Bellini. He is best known for a cycle of nine paintings, The Legend of Saint Ursula.

(330440) Davinadon = 2007 DQ60
Discovered 2007 Feb. 23 by A. Lowe at Mayhill.
Davina O’Brien (b. 1949) and Donovan Edward O’Brien (b. 1945), of Tea Gardens, Australia, are friends of the discoverer.

(349606) Fleurance = 2008 UX5
Discovered 2008 Oct. 26 by M. Ory at Vicques.
Fleurance is a once fortified city in Gers, in south-western France, that was founded in the 13th century. It is well known for its astronomy festival organized by “La Ferme des Etoiles” each year in August. This festival, the largest in France, has been growing steadily since 1991.

A black-and-white photo of Lacks smiling

Henrietta Lacks. Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Fair use

(359426) Lacks = 2010 LA71
Discovered 2010 June 10 by WISE.
Henrietta Lacks (1920–1951) was an American woman whose cancer cells, taken without her knowledge, became one of the most important tools in medicine. Her cells were used to develop the polio vaccine and other medical advances. Her story serves as a powerful symbol of the importance of informed consent in science.

Billie Holiday 0001 original.jpg

Billie Holiday. Credit: William P. Gottlieb / Public Domain

(365443) Holiday = 2010 MU49
Discovered 2010 June 23 by WISE.
Billie Holiday (1915–1959), born Eleanora Fagan, was one of the greatest jazz singers and songwriters of all time. She collaborated with numerous jazz greats, including Lester Young, Count Bassie and Artie Shaw. Her gorgeous voice and heartfelt songs continue to inspire.

(383067) Stoofke = 2005 RA5
Discovered 2005 Sept. 7 by T. Pauwels at Uccle.
Steven Terlaeken (b. 1969), nicknamed Stoofke, created “Loop naar de maan” (“Run to the moon”), a fund raising event for cancer research organised by Kom op tegen Kanker - Belgium.

(398188) Agni = 2010 LE15
Discovered 2010 June 3 by WISE.
Agni is the Vedic god of fire. He represents the vital spark of life, and the fire and brilliance of the Sun, lightning, and comets. Often said to be the link between heaven and Earth, he rides a chariot that is sometimes drawn by parrots.

(400673) Vitapolunina = 2009 OL5
Discovered 2009 July 24 by T. V. Kryachko at Zelenchukskaya Stn.
Viktoriya (Vita) Polunina (b. 1967), Professor Doctor of medical sciences, is a specialist in reflex therapy in children, reconstructive and sports medicine, therapeutic physical training, and the author of more than 70 scientific papers. She supervises the internship of reflex therapy at the Moscow Medical University of N. I. Pirogov.

Source: http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/ECS/MPCArchive/2017/MPC_20170312.pdf

Exoplanet Extravaganza
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Artist's concept shows what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available data about the planets' diameters, masses and distances from the host star. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Exoplanet news has been all the buzz since the announcement of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a red dwarf star 39 light-years away from Earth - that's 229 trillion miles or 369 trillion kilometers. Three of those worlds orbit within that star's habitable zone, increasing their likelihood of supporting life.

Two hours after the announcement, I discussed with students in the Endeavour Space Academy, what exoplanets are, exoplanet detection methods, and the thousands of exoplanets found to date. The questions I got mirror those I've seen asked online:

Can we go there? Well, there are a lots of gotchas to that question. At our current level of technology, and using the fastest object humans have created as a baseline, it would take well over 100,000 years to reach this star system; Remember: "Space is big. Really big!" Speaking of "we," what will modern-day humans have evolved into after 100,000 years?

Could life exist there? It's certainly possible. With the discovery of extremophiles living in hostile environments on Earth, we've had to redefine the limits of life on Earth, and by extension, where life might be found on other worlds. Several bodies in our solar system have be found to have subsurface oceans, and may have hydrothermal vents - like those on Earth that support rich ecosystems. As Br. Guy likes to point out: "If it has happened, it can happen!"

The SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute has been monitoring the TRAPPIST-1 system for radio emissions using the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) since the announcement in May of 2016 that there were three Earth/Venus-sized worlds orbiting that star; now that we know there are seven, that makes this system an even more interesting target.

The James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in October of 2018, will study the atmospheres of exoplanets; I eagerly await the day when NASA announces the discovery of oxygen in the atmosphere of an Earth-like world orbiting another star.

Hypothetical Earth-like exoplanet with a moon orbiting a binary star. Credit: Universe Sandbox ² / Bob Trembley


JPL Press Release 2017-047:

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water -- key to life as we know it -- under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

"This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "Answering the question 'are we alone' is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal."

At about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth, the system of planets is relatively close to us, in the constellation Aquarius. Because they are located outside of our solar system, these planets are scientifically known as exoplanets.

This exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1, named for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile. In May 2016, researchers using TRAPPIST announced they had discovered three planets in the system. Assisted by several ground-based telescopes, including the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, Spitzer confirmed the existence of two of these planets and discovered five additional ones, increasing the number of known planets in the system to seven.

TRAPPIST-1 System showing habitable zone. Credit: NASA Eyes on Exoplanets / Bob Trembley

The new results were published Wednesday in the journal Nature, and announced at a news briefing at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Using Spitzer data, the team precisely measured the sizes of the seven planets and developed first estimates of the masses of six of them, allowing their density to be estimated.

Based on their densities, all of the TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky. Further observations will not only help determine whether they are rich in water, but also possibly reveal whether any could have liquid water on their surfaces. The mass of the seventh and farthest exoplanet has not yet been estimated -- scientists believe it could be an icy, "snowball-like" world, but further observations are needed.

"The seven wonders of TRAPPIST-1 are the first Earth-size planets that have been found orbiting this kind of star," said Michael Gillon, lead author of the paper and the principal investigator of the TRAPPIST exoplanet survey at the University of Liege, Belgium. "It is also the best target yet for studying the atmospheres of potentially habitable, Earth-size worlds."

The TRAPPIST-1 System would easily fit within the orbit of Mercury. Credit: NASA Eyes on Exoplanets / Bob Trembley

In contrast to our sun, the TRAPPIST-1 star -- classified as an ultra-cool dwarf -- is so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system. All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun. The planets also are very close to each other. If a person were standing on one of the planet's surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighboring worlds, which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in Earth's sky.

Sol compared to TRAPPIST-1 and Jupiter. Credit: Universe Sandbox ² / Bob Trembley

The planets may also be tidally locked to their star, which means the same side of the planet is always facing the star, therefore each side is either perpetual day or night. This could mean they have weather patterns totally unlike those on Earth, such as strong winds blowing from the day side to the night side, and extreme temperature changes.


Spitzer, an infrared telescope that trails Earth as it orbits the sun, was well-suited for studying TRAPPIST-1 because the star glows brightest in infrared light, whose wavelengths are longer than the eye can see. In the fall of 2016, Spitzer observed TRAPPIST-1 nearly continuously for 500 hours. Spitzer is uniquely positioned in its orbit to observe enough crossing -- transits -- of the planets in front of the host star to reveal the complex architecture of the system. Engineers optimized Spitzer's ability to observe transiting planets during Spitzer's "warm mission," which began after the spacecraft's coolant ran out as planned after the first five years of operations.

"This is the most exciting result I have seen in the 14 years of Spitzer operations," said Sean Carey, manager of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California. "Spitzer will follow up in the fall to further refine our understanding of these planets so that the James Webb Space Telescope can follow up. More observations of the system are sure to reveal more secrets."

Following up on the Spitzer discovery, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has initiated the screening of four of the planets, including the three inside the habitable zone. These observations aim at assessing the presence of puffy, hydrogen-dominated atmospheres, typical for gaseous worlds like Neptune, around these planets.

In May 2016, the Hubble team observed the two innermost planets, and found no evidence for such puffy atmospheres. This strengthened the case that the planets closest to the star are rocky in nature.

"The TRAPPIST-1 system provides one of the best opportunities in the next decade to study the atmospheres around Earth-size planets," said Nikole Lewis, co-leader of the Hubble study and astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope also is studying the TRAPPIST-1 system, making measurements of the star's minuscule changes in brightness due to transiting planets. Operating as the K2 mission, the spacecraft's observations will allow astronomers to refine the properties of the known planets, as well as search for additional planets in the system. The K2 observations conclude in early March and will be made available on the public archive.

Spitzer, Hubble, and Kepler will help astronomers plan for follow-up studies using NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2018. With much greater sensitivity, Webb will be able to detect the chemical fingerprints of water, methane, oxygen, ozone, and other components of a planet's atmosphere. Webb also will analyze planets' temperatures and surface pressures -- key factors in assessing their habitability.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center, at Caltech, Pasadena, California. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at Caltech/IPAC. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

For more information about Spitzer, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer
For more information on the TRAPPIST-1 system, visit: https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/trappist1
For more information on exoplanets, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/exoplanets 

Simulated view from the surface of TRAPPIST-1f. Credit: Universe Sandbox ² / Bob Trembley

News Media Contacts:
Elizabeth Landau
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6425
elizabeth.landau@jpl.nasa.gov

Felicia Chou / Sean Potter
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1536
felicia.chou@nasa.gov / sean.potter@nasa.gov

Related Links
TRAPPIST-1 info hub
Video file for media
Video: Seven Wonders of TRAPPIST-1
Visions of the Future
Archived news conference

Educational materials:
› NASA Eyes on Exoplanets (app): https://eyes.nasa.gov/eyes-on-exoplanets.html
› NASA Wavelength - Exoplanets: http://nasawavelength.org/resource-search?educationalLevel=&qq=Exoplanets
› NASA Space Place - All About Exoplanets: https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/all-about-exoplanets/en/
› NASA's Universe of Learning: http://universe-of-learning.org/

Exoplanet Detection Methods. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

TRAPPIST-1 System showing habitable zone. Credit: Universe Sandbox ² / Bob Trembley

New Named Asteroids – Feb. 12, 2017
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Asteroid 21 Lutetia. Credit: ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

The day before the 4th anniversary of the Chelyabinsk meteor strike, the IAU Minor Planet Center released a new circular: this one, however, contains only the citations for newly names minor planets - it is completely devoid of the usual list of asteroid and comet observations.

Here are the new named minor planets for Feb. 12, 2017:

(6117) Brevardastro = 1985 CZ1
Discovered 1985 Feb. 12 by H. Debehogne at the European Southern Observatory.
Brevard is a county on the east coast of Florida and is known as the “space coast”. Brevard county is the home of the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, where many of the early manned space flights originated. The Brevard Astronomical Society is a very active amateur astronomy community in Brevard county.

(6118) Mayubosh = 1986 QX3
Discovered 1986 Aug. 31 by H. Debehogne at the European Southern Observatory.
There is a Japanese poem whose subject is Mt. Bizan in the Manyosyu, an anthology of the Nara Era. Mt. Bizan is a small mountain that looks like an eyebrow, and is one of the symbols of Tokushima. This whimsical name uses the character for eyebrow, “mayu”, combined with “boshi” (star).

(6125) Singto = 1989 CN
Discovered 1989 Feb. 4 by S. Ueda and H. Kaneda at Kushiro.
Singto Pukahuta (1915–2007) was a prominent Thai astronomy educator and author. He was a founder and Director of the Bangkok Planetarium, and president of the Thai Astronomical Society. One of his books, Star Tales, was included in the List of 100 Good Books that Thai Children and Young Adults Should Read.

(6126) Hubelmatt = 1989 EW1
Discovered 1989 Mar. 5 by Z. V´avrov´a at Kleˇt..
In 1966 the Astronomical Society of Lucerne got permission from the city to use an observatory dome that was located on the grounds of Hubelmatt, a public school. Public tours have been held at the observatory every Tuesday evening. In 1979 a new observatory opened on the roof of the nearby schoolhouse, Hubelmatt West.

(6133) Royaldutchastro = 1990 RC3
Discovered 1990 Sept. 14 by H. E. Holt at Palomar.
The Koniklijke Nederlandse Vereniging voor Weeren Sterrenkunde (KNVWS, Royal Netherlands Association for Meteorology and Astronomy), established in 1901, is a federation of more than fifty amateur organizations and public observatories.

(6134) Kamagari = 1990 RA5
Discovered 1990 Sept. 15 by H. E. Holt at Palomar.
Kamagari is an area in the south of Kure city in Hiroshima prefecture. The Kamagari astronomical observatory is located in this area.

(6138) Miguelhernández = 1991 JH1
Discovered 1991 May 14 by S. Otomo and O. Muramatsu at Kiyosato.
Miguel Hernández (1910–1942) was a poet who fought for peace and the Republic during the Spanish Civil War. He was incarcerated in several fascist prison camps until his death at the summit of the repression. His name went into oblivion until the collapse of the fascist dictatorship, when his plays and poems were rediscovered.

(6142) Tantawi = 1993 FP
Discovered 1993 Mar. 23 by A. C. Gilmore and P. M. Kilmartin at Lake Tekapo.
Muhammad Tantawi (1845–1889) was an Egyptian astronomer and mathematician, who was born in Tanta and later settled in Damascus, Syria. He is well known for reconstructing the ancient sundial in Omayad Mosque in the ancient city of Damascus, which was originally made by Syrian astronomer Ibn al-Shatir.

(6159) Andréseloy = 1991 YH
Discovered 1991 Dec. 30 by S. Ueda and H. Kaneda at Kushiro.
Andrés Eloy Martinez (b. 1963) is a Mexican astronomer and science popularizer known in his country for his radio dramatization of the novel War of the Worlds. He loves creating science videos for the Internet. His biggest concerns are global warming and an asteroid impact on Earth.

(6177) Fécamp = 1986 CE2
Discovered 1986 Feb. 12 by H. Debehogne at the European Southern Observatory.
Fécamp is a small town located in Normandy, France. The history of F´ecamp rests with that of its abbey.

(6187) Kagura = 1988 RD5
Discovered 1988 Sept. 2 by H. Debehogne at the European Southern Observatory.
The Kagura is a Shinto theatrical dance, that has been perfomed in sacred places and on special occasions for a thousand years in Japan.

(6192) Javiergorosabel = 1990 KB1
Discovered 1990 May 21 by E. F. Helin at Palomar.
Javier Gorosabel (1969–2015) was a Spanish astronomer, born in the Basque Country. His contributions to the study of γ-ray bursts were crucial for the development of that field. He was an eager popularizer of astronomy.

(6196) Bernardbowen = 1991 UO4
Discovered 1991 Oct. 28 by S. Ueda and H. Kaneda at Kushiro.
Bernard Bowen was the founding chair of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research and was instrumental in its establishment in 2009. He helped bring part of the Square Kilometre Array telescope to Western Australia. He has also had a distinguished career in Australian marine science and environmental protection.

(6212) Franzthaler = 1993 MS1
Discovered 1993 June 23 by M. Nassir at Palomar.
Franz Thaler (1925–2015) was an author from South Tyrol, Italy and a survivor of Dachau and Hersbruck. Thaler’s memoir, Unvergessen (Unforgotten), initiated the process of coming to terms with what happened during the Nazi era. He was a firm believer in the peaceful coexistence of the three ethnic groups living in South Tyrol.

(6215) Mehdia = 1973 EK
Discovered 1973 Mar. 7 by L. Kohoutek at Bergedorf.
Mehdia, equivalent to the Arabic word for “gift”, is a region in Morocco with rich natural resources. The forest and the Sidi Boughaba lake are home to thousands of species, including endangered migrating birds from Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, which prefer to spend the winter in the calm, warm waters of Sidi Boughaba.

(6217) Kodai = 1975 XH
Discovered 1975 Dec. 1 by C. Torres and S. Barros at Cerro El Roble.
Kodai Fukushima (b. 1991) is a founder of the student club Libertyer. He made the original proposal of the chosen names “Libertas” and “Fortitudo” for the host star ξ Aquilae and its exoplanet ξ Aquilae b in the IAU’s NameExoWorlds contest.

(6327) Tijn = 1991 GP1
Discovered 1991 Apr. 9 by E. F. Helin at Palomar.
Named for Tijn Kolsteren from the Netherlands, who, at age 6 and diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor, raised over 2 million euros for the International Red Cross, as part of the Dutch charity radio program Serious Request 2016.

(6893) Sanderson = 1983 RS3
Discovered 1983 Sept. 2 by H. Debehogne at the European Southern Observatory.
Richard Sanderson (b. 1955) is Curator of Physical Science at the Springfield Science Museum in Massachusetts, USA. He has been actively involved in developing and presenting popular astronomy public outreach programs for several decades.

(11780) Thunder Bay = 1942 TB
Discovered 1942 Oct. 3 by L. Oterma at Turku.
Thunder Bay, located on the shores of Lake Superior, is the most populous municipality in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. Formed in 1970 as the amalgamation of two cities, Thunder Bay is known as “the Lakehead” because it is Canada’s westernmost port on the Great Lakes and the end of Great Lakes Navigation.

(12706) Tanezaki = 1990 TE1
Discovered 1990 Oct. 15 by T. Seki at Geisei.
Tanezaki is a beach on the eastern side of Urado Bay in Kochi prefecture. It is a beautiful parkland dotted with pine trees and a great place for swimming and relaxation for Kochi city residents.

(14467) Vranckx = 1993 OP3
Discovered 1993 July 20 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.
Rudy Vranckx (b. 1959), a historian, has been a conflict journalist in the news department of the Flemish public service broadcaster VRT for more than 25 years. In a career, which included time spent in the Centre for Peace Studies at KU Leuven, he has reported on many conflicts all over the world.

(20098) Shibatagenji = 1994 WC2
Discovered 1994 Nov. 24 by K. Endate and K. Watanabe at Kitami.
Genji Shibata (b. 1940) is a medical doctor, who contributed to public welfare by establishing a hospital and a home for elderly people in Yamaguchi, Japan.

(20117) Tannoakira = 1995 VN1
Discovered 1995 Nov. 15 by K. Endate and K. Watanabe at Kitami.
Akira Tanno (b. 1940) is a historian studying folk customs and scientists in the Edo period of Japan.

(23691) Jefneve = 1997 JN16
Discovered 1997 May 3 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.
Jef Neve (1977) is a Belgian jazz and classical music pianist. A 2000 graduate of the Lemmens Institure in Leuven , he wrote the soundtrack for the 2012 VRT series “In Vlaamse Velden” (“In Flandern Fields”).

(30881) Robertstevenson = 1992 RS4
Discovered 1992 Sept. 2 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer. His 1879 publication Travels with a Donkey in the C´evennes, recounted his 200 km trip on foot through the C´evennes mountains. The road he followed has been named Chemin de Stevenson in his honor.

(41213) Mimoun = 1999 XG2
Discovered 1999 Dec. 2 by M. Boeuf at Les Tardieux.
Alain Mimoun (1921–2013) was a French long-distance runner, and marathon champion at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.

(157533) Stellamarie = 2005 TL49
Discovered 2005 Oct. 10 by W. Ries at Altschwendt.
Stella Marie Ries (b. 2008) is the niece of the discoverer.

(176380) Goran = 2001 TE248
Discovered 2001 Oct. 14 by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey at Apache Point.
Goran Ivezic (b. 1971), is a Croatian amateur astronomer and the brother of SDSS team member Zeljko Ivezic.

(428102) Rolandwagner = 2006 QO137
Discovered 2006 Aug. 30 by B. Christophe at Saint-Sulpice.
Roland C. Wagner (1960–2012) was a French author, journalist, literary critic, translator and sometime singer, who wrote dozens of sci-fi novels. His final novel, Reves de Gloire, won several literary awards.

Source: http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/ECS/MPCArchive/2017/MPC_20170212.pdf