Asteroid namesakes

On May 1st a new batch of asteroids were named — four of which honor S&T staffers, and a fifth pays tribute to the American Association for Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). From left to right, top row: Steven Simpson, Alan MacRobert; bottom row: Stuart Goldman, AAVSO director Janet A. Mattei, Rick Fienberg.

S&T photograph by Craig Michael Utter.

On May 1st the International Astronomical Union named four asteroids in honor of Sky & Telescope staffers. In total, 29 asteroids have been named for Sky & Telescope editors, contributing editors, contributing photographers, art directors, and staff members past and present.

The latest group of honorees include editor in chief Richard Tresch Fienberg (9983 Rickfienberg), senior editor Alan M. MacRobert (10373 MacRobert), associate editor Stuart J. Goldman (10153 Goldman), and associate art director Steven Simpson (10596 Stevensimpson). The group has a combined 72 years of experience at Sky & Telescope.

The city-size rocks range in brightness from 16th to 18th magnitude. They are all main-belt asteroids.

Asteroid 9983 Rickfienberg

Seen here moving through a star field in Leo is the asteroid 9983 Rickfienberg. It was named by the International Astronomical Union to honor Sky & Telescope magazine's editor in chief.

Sky & Telescope photos by Dennis di Cicco.

"I'm tickled to be on the same list as Elvis and the Beatles," says Fienberg. "They're gone, and I'll be gone someday too, but our rocks will continue to roll around the solar system for billions of years!"

Simpson also felt a sense of longevity upon hearing the news. "I felt honored. It will be cool when 300 years after I'm dead, when they are mining the asteroids, they will eventually get to my rock. Maybe they'll find something interesting."

A fifth asteroid, 8900 AAVSO, was named in honor of the American Association of Variable Star Observers . The AAVSO was founded in 1911 by
amateur William Tyler Olcott. It stands today as one of the strongest organizations dedicated to fostering collaboration between amateurs and
professional astronomers.

The rocks were discovered by S&T senior editor Dennis di Cicco from his home observatory in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. He has been credited as the principal discoverer of more than 50 asteroids since 1994.

Also included in the group of rock names announced on May 1st was asteroid (26858 Misterrogers). It was named for the children's television star Fred Rogers, who died on February 27, 2003, at the age of 74. Rogers's show, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, ran on public television from 1963 to 2001.


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