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

Explore further: Short, sharp shocks let slip the stories of supernovae

Related Stories

Russia restarts spacecraft after embarrassing failures

48 minutes ago

Russia's space agency said Monday it had managed to restart the engines of the Progress spacecraft and correct the orbit of the International Space Station (ISS) which it is attached to, after a failed first ...

Gel filled with nanosponges cleans up MRSA infections

56 minutes ago

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego developed a gel filled with toxin-absorbing nanosponges that could lead to an effective treatment for skin and wound infections caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant ...

CEO: Nissan will be ready with autonomous driving by 2020

57 minutes ago

Nissan Motor Co. will have vehicles packed with autonomous driving technology by 2020 but whether people will be able to drive them on roads is up to government regulators, Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said ...

Great white shark cruising East Coast becomes Twitter star

8 hours ago

They're gonna need a bigger Twitter. An organization studying great white sharks is enjoying some welcome attention after one of the creatures they've been monitoring started gaining a loyal social media following. @MaryLeeShark ...

Recommended for you

Hubble observes one-of-a-kind star nicknamed 'Nasty'

May 21, 2015

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered surprising new clues about a hefty, rapidly aging star whose behavior has never been seen before in our Milky Way galaxy. In fact, the star is ...

Galaxy's snacking habits revealed

May 20, 2015

A team of Australian and Spanish astronomers have caught a greedy galaxy gobbling on its neighbours and leaving crumbs of evidence about its dietary past.

Supernova ignition surprises scientists

May 20, 2015

Scientists have captured the early death throes of supernovae for the first time and found that the universe's benchmark explosions are much more varied than expected.

User comments : 0

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.