Asteroids named after Saanich Peninsula residents

Asteroids named after Saanich Peninsula residents

Chris Gainor has a piece of the sky all his own. “It’s called 20041 Gainor,” he says from his Sidney home.

Gainor is one of 40 people honoured by the International Astronomy Union last week, by having an asteroid named in his honour.

“It’s a bit of immortality I guess,” laughs the historian who was past president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Gainor has published several books and papers on the history of astronomy and space flight, including a book published by NASA entitled Not Yet Imagined, the Operational History of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Other notable honourees include Dr. David Suzuki and CBC Science Reporter Nicole Martillero, and you don’t have to travel far from Gainor’s home to find another.

Lauri Roche sits on the council for the Royal Astronomical Society Victoria Centre and the board of directors for the Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. She’s brought space education to programs and classrooms on Vancouver Island for decades.

“When they announced it at our meeting last week and Chris Gainor was the other, I almost fell over,” she says from Brentwood Bay.

Roche describes her asteroid (20035 Lauriroche) as being in the main asteroid belt and “smaller than the distance between Brentwood Bay and Central Saanich.”

“It’s very little,” she says.

Gainor says 20041 Gainor is in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Neither honouree has seen their asteroid, as both are located on the other side of the sun. Although dim, it’s possible to spot them with a high-powered telescope.

Jordan CunninghamJordan Cunningham

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