Lutetia_closest_approach_(Rosetta).jpg

Asteroid Names

I love asteroid names.

When you discover an asteroid, you get to propose a name. Names are formally approved by a working group of the International Astronomical Union. I joined that working group in 2018.

Rules govern what names can be used, though these rules have changed over time.

Many asteroids are named after noteworthy individuals, such as 5102 Benfranklin or 95962 Copito, an albino gorilla. Some are whimsical, such as 24680 Alleven and 13579 Allodd, or funny, like 88705 Potato. 6510 Tarry is a grateful tribute. 16232 Chijagerbs is a romantic gesture. Many are named after astronomers, including me!

I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of proposing asteroid names to honor worthy individuals over my career. Here is a list of names that have been approved. I am thrilled that these remarkable people have been honored in this way.