Asteroid named after local astronomer

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2020

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The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently honored local astronomer and Polk County native Randy Flynn, by naming an asteroid after him.

Formerly designated as 2016 EV243, this minor planet was first discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. This main belt asteroid has now been renamed and officially designated as “Randyflynn (522563)”. The designation was recently approved by the IAU and published by the Minor Planet Center.

While the IAU performs many tasks, it serves as the internationally recognized authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and surface features on them. Flynn was nominated by the Catalina Sky Survey for his work in tracking and confirming near earth asteroids, many of those being discovery confirmations which aid in determining if an asteroid is a potential threat to earth. From his home observatory (Squirrel Valley Observatory) in Columbus, Flynn regularly provides astrometric data to the large sky surveys, Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona, ATLAS and Pan-STARRS surveys in Hawaii.
The citation reads: “American amateur astronomer Randy L. Flynn (b. 1963) operates Squirrel Valley Observatory in western North Carolina. Randy submits important follow-up observations of Near-Earth Asteroids to the Minor Planet Center and was awarded the Shoemaker NEO Grant in 2019 to help further his efforts”.

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Submitted by Lisa Flynn