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Armagh Observatory and Planetarium celebrates as asteroids named after astronomers

Astronomers Galin Borisov (left) and Aswin Sekhar (right)

Leading astronomical research and education centre, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, has announced that two of its Visiting Astronomers, Aswin Sekhar and Galin Borisov, had asteroids named after them by the International Astronomical Union on June 21.

The honours were bestowed during the Asteroids, Comets, Meteors Conference 2023, which was held in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA last month.

Paris-based, Indian-born astronomer, Aswin Sekhar, was a PhD student at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium from 2010 until 2014 and worked with the organisation’s Dr. David Asher.

He has been announced as a namesake for the Aswinskekhar asteroid, which lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. He received the accolade for his contributions to the field of meteors in meteoroid stream dynamics.

Bulgarian astronomer, Galin Borisov, was formerly a postdoctoral fellow at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium from 2015 until 2021, when he worked with the organisation’s Dr. Apostolos Christou.

Galin has had the Galinborisov asteroid named after him for his work, which has included the characterization of asteroids using polarimetric, spectroscopic, and photometric observations.

Astronomer Aswin Sekhar, says, “I am delighted to receive this accolade from the International Astronomical Union. My asteroid has an unusually high eccentricity compared to most asteroids in the main belt which I feel quite matches my personality!”

The Aswinskekhar and Galinborisov are the 23rd and 24rd asteroids awarded to Armagh Observatory and Planetarium’s visiting astronomers.

‘Visiting Astronomer’ is an honorary appointment bestowed by Armagh Observatory and Planetarium on scientists, who are, most commonly, former members of the organisation, and who actively collaborate with it on research projects.

Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is sited in a heritage environment with a rich scientific history. The organisation delivers internationally recognised research in astronomy and related sciences and vibrant educational and outreach programmes for all ages.

Professor Michael Burton, Director of the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium comments, “We are honoured that the International Astronomical Union has chosen to acknowledge Armagh Observatory and Planetarium’s longstanding contribution to Solar System research and would like to congratulate both Aswin and Galin on the receipt of these accolades.

“Our observatory is the longest continuously operating astronomical research institute in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and our planetarium is the oldest in operation across the same areas. As such, we are proud to operate at the forefront of astronomy.

“There are now 24 asteroids whose naming involves a connection with the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium and we hope to continue this tradition. It’s wonderful that we are able to show all their orbits on our Planetarium dome during our star Dome Shows.”

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