Astronomers pay tribute to Leonard Nimoy by naming an asteroid for him

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Jun 8, 2015, 12:47 PM EDT (Updated)

The tributes to Leonard Nimoy just keep coming. It's been more than three months since we lost the Star Trek star, actor, director, photographer and poet to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at the age of 83, but while Nimoy journeys on in the Final Frontier, we're still thinking of ways to honor him back here on Earth. First came the Star Trek Online memorials that will stand in the game forever, then came the announcement of a documentary about the man and his most famous character, Spock, by Nimoy's son Adam. Now Nimoy's been honored again ... in space.

The Minor Planet Center announced on June 2 that it has named a 6-mile-wide asteroid in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter 4864 Nimoy, in honor of the late actor. The asteroid was originally discovered in 1988 by Henri Debehogne, a Belgian astronomer, and until recently it was known as 1988 RA5. Amusingly, there is already an asteroid in the asteroid belt named 2309 Mr. Spock, and it's carried that name since 1971. It's not technically named for Nimoy, though. The astronomer who discovered it, James Gibson, actually christened the asteroid after his cat.

As for 4864 Nimoy, it'll be out there in the inner part of the belt, orbiting the sun every 3.9 years, reminding us of Spock's many voyages and Nimoy's many contributions to sci-fi culture and fandom. It's hard to spot right now, but according to, if you're an amateur stargazer with a 14-inch or larger telescope, you might be able to glimpse it in mid-July when it brightens a bit.


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