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Now That Is Cool:

WISN-TV reports:

Three Racine sophomore students were notified on Monday that a celestial body they discovered during a science project had been verified as an asteroid.

The students at Racine's Prairie School will be able to name the asteroid, temporarily identified as "2008 AZ28," in about four years, according to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., the international authority on known objects in the solar system.

Sophomores Connor Leipold, Tim Pastika and Kyle Simpson were able to make the discovery thanks to technology provided from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., which is also the alma mater of the science teacher, Andrew Vanden Heuvel, school spokeswoman Susan Paprcka said.

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.

JustAnotherLALawyer (mail):
"Arthur"
1.16.2008 7:50pm
awwwww:
"Eugene Volokh"
1.16.2008 7:56pm
A3L:
Does anyone know why they have to wait four years to name it?
1.16.2008 8:08pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
That's the 2nd time in the last couple months I've heard about a local news story on the Volokh Conspiracy before hearing it anywhere else... Who WOULDN'T read this page?
1.16.2008 8:11pm
BillW:
A3L: Does anyone know why they have to wait four years to name it?

How Minor Planets Are Named

When the orbit of a Minor Planet becomes well enough determined that the position can be reliably predicted far into the future (typically this means after the Minor Planet has been observed at four or more oppositions), the Minor Planet receives a permanent designation - number issued sequentially by the Minor Planet Center, for example (433), (4179) or (50000).

When a Minor Planet receives a permanent number, the discoverer of the Minor Planet is invited to suggest a name for it. The discoverer has this privilege for a period of ten years following the numbering of the object.
1.16.2008 8:47pm
FantasiaWHT:

That's the 2nd time in the last couple months I've heard about a local news story on the Volokh Conspiracy before hearing it anywhere else... Who WOULDN'T read this page?


Me too, Daniel Chapman! Good to see another Wisconsinite
1.16.2008 9:38pm
Phil Ammar (mail) (www):
I was classmates and friends with the Racine students' teacher, Andrew Vanden Heuvel at Calvin College. Andrew was in the news himself a few years ago for being one of the first undergrad students to discover an asteroid. It only seems fitting that he would be involved in another milestone of asteroid discovery. Since that initial discovery, Calvin College has turned asteroid discovery into a cottage industry with 167 new finds since 2003.

I have spent many hours myself, using the exact same equipment that those students were using to look for asteroids and other things and let me tell you, its not easy. Those students should be proud of themselves.
1.16.2008 10:40pm
Eli Rabett (www):
It's really cool how astronomy and birding have active and productive amateur communities.
1.17.2008 12:13am
dearieme:
Hard to imagine someone called "Paprcka" associated with something cool. Anyway, on a more serious note - why are billions extorted from taxpayers to spend on astronomy when it's just child's play?
1.17.2008 7:16am
NaG (mail):
Is Andrew Vandel Heuvel related to the editor-in-chief of The Nation, Katrina? It would not change my opinion of anything in any way, but that last name seems pretty distinctive.
1.17.2008 7:40am
Curt Fischer:

billions extorted from taxpayers to spend on astronomy


Billions? Link please!
1.17.2008 8:00am
dearieme:
Curt: assume (see, I've learnt from astronomers) that each sizeable advanced economy squanders, on average, say 50 million dollars a year on astronomy. As an order of magnitude (see, I've learnt from astronomers), there are about 10 such economies. That's 500 million. Over a decade (see, I've learnt from Slick Willie) that's 5 billion. QED.
1.17.2008 10:43am
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
Earlier today I was in a doctor's office reading (Newsweek?) about amusing asteroid names. Can't find it online but here's a list of named asteroids.
1.17.2008 9:33pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Why do we spend money on astronomy?

Obviously because there is a huge number of people interested in astronomy. The advantage of an amateur community (BTW, Hubble has observer time reserved for amateurs)

Same reason as we spend billions on ballparks.
1.18.2008 12:47am