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Space oddity

Western names written among the stars

by Jason Winders, MES'10

You don’t look up Peter Jedicke’s phone number. You look up for it. Asteroid (5899) Jedicke orbits the sun, somewhere out there, floating between Mars and Jupiter among tens of thousands of other ancient celestial pieces of real estate. Discovered on Jan. 9, 1986, the rock was later named for Jedicke, BA’76, MA’97 (Philosophy), brother Robert Jedicke, BA’84, of the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, and sister, June Jedicke-Zehr.

It has been a point of pride for the former president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. So much so, Jedicke somehow convinced a Bell representative to change his phone number to his asteroid number.

“I have always had an interest in all the oddball parts of astronomy, little things that everyone overlooks,” said Jedicke, a Fanshawe College professor since 1980. “The researchers, they don’t have time for the little bits of fluff and fun that go on – the anecdotes, the stories, the human side of all that.

“But I have always made time for it; I have always looked after that.”

Over the years, the Jedicke Brothers have been responsible for naming dozens of asteroids, including many named after famed Western scientists and sites. Jedicke admits his effort is not unique. (In recent years, Physics & Astronomy’s Paul Wiegert has spearheaded naming asteroids after mostly former and current professors in the department.) But for him, the name game ties directly into his passion for spreading the word.

“To me, this is all about outreach, about astronomy. It gives me a chance to talk to folks about this thing that I find so exciting,” he said.

About asteroids

Asteroids are rocky, airless worlds that orbit our sun, but are too small to be called planets. Tens of thousands of these minor planets are gathered in the main asteroid belt, a vast doughnut-shaped ring between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids that pass close to Earth are called near-earth objects.

Among Western's celestial connections so named by Jedicke are:

Asteroid (11980) Ellis. Kerry Ellis, PhD’94, chief engineer on the international Leonid Storm monitoring project at the Meteor Physics Lab at Western.

Asteroid (12014) Bobhawkes. Robert Hawkes, PhD’79.

Asteroid (12050) Humecronyn. Hume Cronyn, namesake of the Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory, which opened in 1940.

Asteroid (12125) Jamesjones. James Jones, a Physics and Astronomy professor.

Asteroid (12317) Madicampbell. Margaret Campbell, PhD’02, and Physics and Astronomy professor.

Asteroid (12343) Martinbeech. Martin Beech, PhD’93, formerly of the Meteor Physics Lab at Western.

Asteroid (12386) Nikolova. Simona Nikolova, PhD’06.

Asteroid (12397) Peterbrown. Peter Brown, MSc’94, PhD’99, Physics and Astronomy professor and Canada Research Chair in Meteor Astronomy.

Asteroid (12431) Webster. Alan Webster, Electrical and Computer Engineering professor.

Asteroid (12447) Yatescup. Yates Cup, OUA championship football trophy.

Asteroid (13693) Bondar. Roberta Bondar, MSc’71, Dsc’95, Canadian astronaut.

Asteroid (13700) Connors. Martin Connors, HBSc’77.

Asteroid (13806) Darmstrong. Dale Henry Armstrong, BA’85.

Asteroid (14026) Esquerdo. Gil Esquerdo, research assistant for Western’s Near-Earth- Asteroid Physical Study project.

Asteroid (14060) Patersonewen. Paterson Ewen, artist in Visual Arts who had an interest in astronomy.

Asteroid (14065) Flegel. Mike Flegel, HBSc’82.

Asteroid (14092) Gaily. T. Dean Gaily, Physics professor.

Asteroid (14203) Hocking. Wayne Keith Hocking, Physics and Astonomy professor.

Asteroid (14274) Landstreet. John Darlington Landstreet, Physics and Astonomy professor.

Asteroid (14619) Plotkin. Howard Plotkin, Philosophy professor.

Asteroid (14697) Ronsawyer. Ron Sawyer, BA’05.

Asteroid (14988) Tryggvason. Bjarni Tryggvason, DSC’98, Canadian astronaut.

Asteroid (14994) Uppenkamp. Wolfgang Uppenkamp, a Modern Languages and Literature exchange student in 1974-75.

Asteroid (15025) UWOntario. Western.

Asteroid (15846) Billfyfe. William Fyfe, former Science dean.

Asteroid (15849) Billharper. William Harper, Philosophy professor.

Asteroid (15887) Daveclark. David Clark, MSc’10.

Asteroid (15068) Wiegert. Paul Wiegert, Physics and Astronomy professor.

Asteroid (16192) Laird. Elizabeth Laird, former Physics professor and radar pioneer.

This article appeared in the Spring 2016 edition of Alumni Gazette
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