Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Asteroid 9766 Bradbury

On 24th February 1992, an average-sized asteroid was discovered by Spacewatch observers at the Kitt's Peak Observatory, and designated 1992 DZ2. Eight and a half years later it was given a name: 9766 Bradbury.

Dr Jeffrey Larsen of the Spacewatch Project and the University of Arizona wrote to Ray Bradbury to tell him of this astronomical re-naming. He provided technical details of the asteroid's orbit, and more graspable information such as its size (three to nine kilometres in diameter) and distance from the Sun (2.45 astronomical units). Dr Larsen also informed Ray that the asteroid had not been observed for its physical composition, and thanked Ray "for inspiring me in my youth" through his writing.

Ray immediately faxed Dr Larsen back, exclaiming "Holy Magoly!" He thanked Larsen for "this wonderful baptism" and felt sure that this would earn respect from his four daughters.

Ray Bradbury had been similarly honoured by the Apollo 15 astronauts, who named a crater on the Moon as "Dandelion Crater" in 1971. Shortly after his death, he was astronomically honoured once more, when the Curiosity landing site on Mars was named as "Bradbury Landing".

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