Friday, October 5, 2007

George Takei, Heavenly Body

151,000 known asteroids are currently without a proper name. Asteroid 1994 GT9, located between Mars and Jupiter, joins about 14,000 lucky others to have so far been given a name by the Committee on Small Body Nomenclature, within the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

The asteroid has just been given the name 7307 Takei in honour of actor George Takei.

In October 2005, Takei, best known for his role as helmsman Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek series and movies, revealed in an issue of Frontiers magazine that he is gay, and has been in a committed relationship with his partner, Brad Altman, for the last eighteen years. He said, "It's not really coming out, which suggests opening a door and stepping through. It's more like a long, long walk through what began as a narrow corridor that starts to widen."

7307 Takei was discovered on April 13, 1994 by the two Japanese astronomers Yoshisada Shimizu and Takeshi Urata at the Nachi-Katsuura Observatory in Nachikatsuura, Wakayama, Japan. Under the IAU Committee's policies, someone who discovers an asteroid has 10 years to propose a name for it. Once this delay has past, other suggestions are considered, although anything "in questionable taste" and names of political or military figures dead for less than 100 years, are discouraged.

Thus 7307 Takei finds itself the third rock to be named after someone involved with Star Trek. 4659 Roddenberry (Gene Roddenberry is the creator of Star Trek) and 68410 Nichols (Nichelle Nichols played Lt. Uhura) being the other two.

"I am now a heavenly body," Takei said. "I found out about it yesterday. I was blown away. It came out of the clear, blue sky just like an asteroid."

We were "privileged to work on a show that had this kind of a vision for our future, but we're actors," Takei added. "Yes, we all lobbied . . . for a star on Hollywood Boulevard, but never a star up in the heavens."

International Astronomical Union
George Takei on Wikipedia

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