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Skeptic History: Asteroids PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tim Farley   

Last Halloween at CSICON in New Orleans, it was announced that an asteroid discovered by skeptic and astronomer James McGaha had been named to honor CSI investigator Joe Nickell. And just this month two more asteroids were named for Australian science communicators and skeptics "Doctor Karl" Kruszelnicki and Adam Spencer. These three are actually the latest in a long series of asteroids that have been named for skeptics or skeptic organizations.

The complete list of asteroids named for skeptics (in alphabetical order by namesake) is as follows, with their discovery dates:

The numbers are assigned sequentially as asteroids are discovered and verified. The names honor individuals or organizations.

You may have noticed one odd anomaly in that list. Why is the asteroid named to honor CSICOP called Skepticus? That was because of a rule against using acronyms in naming astronomical bodies.

You can get a daily dose of the history of skepticism with JREF’s free Today in Skeptic History app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Or subscribe for a daily fact on Twitter or Facebook.

(This essay originally appeared in a slightly different form on Skepticality episode #124) 

Tim Farley is a Research Fellow for JREF.

Comments (3)Add Comment
written by Beerina, April 28, 2012
Is there a particular reason names have to be one word? Several are the first and last names of people, jammed together as one word.
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Skeptics of Oz
written by Baxter de Wahl, April 29, 2012
Three of those names are Australian.

Given Australia's population ratio to the rest of the world, it is therefore scientifically valid to say that Australia is the most skeptical nation on earth.
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written by krelnik, April 30, 2012
Beerina: I think the one-word thing is just a convention they've adopted. Solar system names started out with names of deities and demigods, which are typically one word.

For real people, sometimes they just use the person's last name, but if that's already taken then they'll use first plus last jammed together. I've even seen last plus first, such as 3834 Zappafrank for Frank Zappa, who someone suggested I should add to this list as he was a bit of a skeptic.
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