Oct 5, 2007

Asteroid named after Star Trek actor

An asteroid between Mars and Jupiter has been renamed '7307 Takei' in honor of George Takei, the actor, best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu in the original "Star Trek" series and movies. The renaming of 7307 Takei was approved by the International Astronomical Union's Committee on Small Body Nomenclature.

The celestial rock, discovered by two Japanese astronomers in 1994, was formerly known as 1994 GT9. It joins the 4659 Roddenberry (named for the show's creator, Gene Roddenberry) and the 68410 Nichols (for co-star Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura). Other main-belt asteroids have been named for science fiction luminaries Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.

"I am now a heavenly body," Takei, 70, said Tuesday, laughing. "I found out about it yesterday. ... I was blown away. It came out of the clear, blue sky -- just like an asteroid."

Under the International Astronomical Union's Committee's policies, whoever discovers an asteroid has 10 years in which to propose a name. After that, the panel considers other suggestions.

'The IAU committee-approved names are actually used by astronomers', said Tom Burbine, the Mount Holyoke College astronomy professor who proposed the name. He suggested Takei's name in part out of appreciation for his work with the Japanese American Citizens League and with the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign. Link


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