The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has named a pair of asteroids after experts Professor Jonti Horner and Dr Tim Holt, in recognition of their contribution to space research.
Located around 200 million kilometres from Earth, the asteroid (32520) Jontihorner is more reflective than usual, which is suggestive of something unusual – perhaps an icy surface, or exposed metal terrain. In contrast, the asteroid (32519) Timholt is a main belt asteroid found between the orbit of Jupiter and Mars.
96five’s Ken and Nicky caught up with Professor Jonti Horner to hear about the process and his response to this honour.
“It’s an official thing unlike some of the other naming things you hear about where people can pay to get things named after them” Professor Horner said.
“A fabulous move incidentally in recent years for the International Astronomical Union to start giving some stars that don’t have names official names.
“So the brightest stars we have in the sky have names that go back to antiquity but they’re trying to make the naming more multicultural and a really good example of that is the fifth brightest star in the Southern Cross is now called Ginan which is a name from Indigenous Australian culture.
With a long and distinguished career in space research, Professor Horner has studied his fair share of asteroids.
These include the Jovian and Neptunian Trojans, a set of asteroids out near Jupiter and Neptune, which provide clues on the formation and evolution of the Solar system.
To learn more about asteroids and the work of Professor Jonti Horner, visit the University of Southern Queensland’s Centre for Astrophysics.
Listen to the full interview in the player above.
Feature Image: University of Southern Queensland space researchers Professor Jonti Horner (left) and Dr Tim Holt have each had an asteroid named after them by the International Astronomical Union.