Asteroid 22406 no longer bears just a number in a solar system full of rocky objects orbiting our sun; it now carries the name of Canadian astronomer Gary Boyle, making it one-of-a-kind.
The asteroid was first observed on August 22, 1995 by astronomers in Tucson, Ariz., and was named Garyboyle in April of this year.
“I’m still over the moon,” Boyle told CTV News Channel. “I’m just pinching myself on how this wonderful recognition of work that I’ve done over the past few decades has really paid off.”
Boyle, an amateur astronomer, was approached a few years ago by Peter Jedicke, a fellow member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and asked if he wanted to be nominated. According to the International Astronomical Union that’s responsible for naming asteroids, he was recognized for his outreach events, activities and classes that encourage people to look up at the sky.
“To be recognized for something that I’ve been (immersed) in since I was eight-years-old… it’s a true gift for sure,” said Boyle.
Garyboyle is between three and five kilometres wide and is an Amor asteroid, which means it doesn’t cross Earth’s orbit but hangs around Mars. According to Boyle, the asteroid is currently fairly close to the sun and not visible. However, he’ll be able to see its general vicinity around the summer solstice in late June.
According to Boyle, asteroids are named for all types of people in various fields including composers, teachers, historians and astronomers.
“I don’t think I could ever top it,” said Boyle. “Other than finding my own comet.”