Lowell Observatory Wants Asteroid Named After Trayvon Martin

How would you like to look into the evening sky and see an asteroid named Trayvon Martin?

If the trustee of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, has his way, such will be the case.

As the Arizona Daily Sun reported Thursday, the Observatory discovered the asteroid 2000 TM61 on October 2, 2000.

The minor planet was never named, and following last year's indictment of George Zimmerman for the murder of Martin, William Lowell Putnam III had astronomer Edward Bowell, a near-Earth asteroid and comet expert, petition the Minor Planet Center to have it named after the fallen teenager.

The citation reads:

“Named in memory of Trayvon Martin (1995-2012), a student at Dr. Michael M. Krop High School in Miami, Florida. Unarmed, he was fatally shot in Sanford, Florida, during an altercation with the neighborhood watch coordinator.”

The Center declined the request saying that the naming was premature.

“We do not discuss proposals for minor planet namings prior to the approval of those names. Neither do we confirm if particular names have been proposed,” Gareth Williams, associate director of the Minor Planet Center and IAU secretary in the group responsible for naming small bodies told the Daily Sun. “Once names are approved, they become official when the names and accompanying citations are published in the Minor Planet Circulars.”

But Putnam is undeterred. Following George Zimmerman's acquittal earlier this year, he has decided to renew his efforts.

“As I see it, the social fairness showed to Trayvon Martin was very sadly lacking,” Putnam told the Daily Sun. “Inasmuch as I am the sole trustee of an institution which has some naming privileges, I want to do my share to see that this lad is remembered in an appropriate manner.”

It will be interesting to see if the Center changes its mind and indeed does name this minor planet after Martin.

Stay tuned.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.