Good Heavens!

As noted recently in the New York Times, the Committee of Small Body Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union has approved the naming of asteroid 84928 as “Oliversacks”!

Dr. Sacks comments:

“I can’t think of a better birthday present! I have always wanted my own asteroid, and now I can say that I am three kilometers in diameter, orbiting the sun every five years, at a distance of roughly 425 million kilometers–this, I guess, is as close as I will ever get to heaven….

I am enormously honored and grateful to Ed Beshore of the Catalina Sky Survey, who discovered (84928) Oliversacks and proposed naming it after me. And I am grateful to my friends Kate Edgar, Marsha Ivins, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, who all worked behind the scenes on this birthday honor.” [Dr. Sacks turned 75 on July 9, 2008.]

Neil deGrasse Tyson commented:

“Congratulations, Oliver, on your newly named asteroid. I double checked, before it was selected, to ensure that it was not among those headed for Earth. You can imagine the headlines: ‘Sacked by Sacks’.”

Ed Beshore, Survey Operations Manager, Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona discovered the asteroid in 2003. He noted:

“After the orbit of a newly discovered minor planet is firmly established, the International Astronomical Union gives the discoverer an opportunity to propose a name for it. If approved, this name is permanent and unique, and will be associated with this object in perpetuity. When we found out that Dr. Sacks would be celebrating his 75th birthday this year, the Catalina Sky Survey enthusiastically supported the notion that one of our recent discoveries should bear his name. Being able to recognize the contributions of people like Dr. Sacks in this way is among the most rewarding benefits of our work.”