Asteroid named for Mark Kelly and Gabrielle Giffords

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bob Gent, activist and former president of the Astronomical League, forwarded this news as reported in the March issue of The Reflector, which is just out. Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, have received the honor of a minor planet named for them. Giffords, who was tragically and critically injured in the Tucson, Arizona, shooting of January 8, 2011, resigned from Congress in January of this year. Kelly is still an active astronaut and is a Navy veteran of combat missions — his identical twin brother, Scott Kelly, is also an astronaut.

Principals of the Giffords-Kelly asteroid project appeared at a Tucson, Arizona, fundraising event December 5, 2011. They are, left to right, Tim Hunter, Carol Hunter, Wendee Levy, David Levy, Mark Kelly, and Bob Gent. Photo credit: Bob Gent
On December 5, 2011, Mark Kelly joined those who arranged to name the asteroid at a fundraising event in Tucson. The asteroid, designated 167748 Markkelly (2004 XB42), was discovered by Tom Glinos and Astronomy magazine Contributing Editor David Levy at Jarnac Observatory in Vail, Arizona. The minor planet is named for astronaut Kelly, but also honors his wife Giffords. The name was proposed by Bob Gent and the citation prepared by David and Wendee Levy.

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