University of Victoria Gets Its Place Among The Stars

May 31, 2007

Looking for directions to UVic? No sweat. Hop on a space shuttle and head for the middle of an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. A mere 416 million km from Earth you’ll find a 3.5-km chunk of rock hurtling away from the sun. Welcome to UVic.

That’s the new official name of an asteroid discovered by Dave Balam, a research associate in the University of Victoria’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. The name was published today in the Minor Planet Circulars of the International Astronomical Union, which formally approves and registers newly discovered celestial objects.

Balam “accidentally” discovered the asteroid in 1996 while using the telescope at the National Research Council of Canada in Saanich to track near-Earth comets and asteroids. “At the time, the object was more than 200,000 times fainter than the faintest star that can be seen by the human eye on a dark night, and then it faded rapidly,” says Balam.

It took 11 years to calculate and confirm the asteroid’s orbital path before Balam was able to exercise his naming rights. “Good things take a lot of time,” he says, “and so I felt that the most fitting name should be UVic in honour of the institution where I’ve worked for more than 30 years.”

UVic is the ninth Canadian university to be immortalized in the heavens, and the first one in British Columbia.

More properly known as (150145) UVic, the asteroid orbits the sun every 5.43 years and is currently in the constellation of Leo. It will emerge from behind the sun in May 2008 when it will be 332 million km from Earth.

Source: University of Victoria

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Earth's days getting longer: study

December 7, 2016

Earth's days are getting longer but you're not likely to notice any time soon—it would take about 6.7 million years to gain just one minute, according to a study published on Wednesday.

Cassini makes first ring-grazing plunge

December 6, 2016

NASA's Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft has made its first close dive past the outer edges of Saturn's rings since beginning its penultimate mission phase on Nov. 30.

Curiosity rover team examining new drill hiatus

December 6, 2016

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is studying its surroundings and monitoring the environment, rather than driving or using its arm for science, while the rover team diagnoses an issue with a motor that moves the rover's drill.

Colliding galaxy clusters

December 5, 2016

Galaxy clusters contain a few to thousands of galaxies and are the largest bound structures in the universe. Most galaxies are members of a cluster. Our Milky Way, for example, is a member of the "Local Group," a set of about ...

New dwarf satellite galaxy of Messier 83 found

December 5, 2016

(Phys.org)—Astronomers have found a new dwarf satellite of Messier 83 (M83, also known as the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy) located some 85,000 light years from its host. This satellite galaxy was designated dw1335-29 and could ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.