Everyone’s favorite ensign from Star Trek: The Next Generation just got his own asteroid named after him. Well, at least actor Wil Wheaton did. He joins several Star Trek legends in receiving the honor!
— Ron Baalke (@RonBaalke) January 19, 2017
Ron Baalke, who works at NASA’s Space Propulsion Lab made the announcement on Twitter. The asteroid formerly known as simply 391257 (which was like my 14th favorite asteroid ever) now bears the name of the actor and geek icon. 391257 Wilwheaton is in the asteroid belt, orbiting our sun between Mars and Jupiter. As long as he stays there and doesn’t cross Earth’s path, 391527 Wilwheaton should be cool in my book. According to NASA, the asteroid has a minimum orbit intersection distance (MOID) of .859426 au with Earth, so I guess he isn’t a killer asteroid!
There is no better way to solidify your geek cred than to have a celestial body named after you by NASA. Sure, you can buy a star name for yourself, but that isn’t the same as an actual space agency naming an asteroid after you. I’m not going to stop you from naming a star after your boyfriend as a romantic gift though. You do you.
Wheaton beautifully expressed how he felt about this honor on his blog:
Today, I found out that I kind of get to be in space and live right here on Earth … because an asteroid has been named after me. It’s asteroid 391257, and it’s currently in Canis Minor. As soon as it gets dark here, I’m going to walk out into my backyard, look up into the sky, just a little above Sirius, and know that, even though I can’t see it with my naked eye, it’s out there, and it’s named after me.
Would you want a minor planet to bear your name? Did you buy yourself or someone you know a star name? Let us know!