What an hon­our!

Cana­dian astronomer names small planet af­ter An­napo­lis Royal

Annapolis Valley Register - - NEWS - THE SPEC­TA­TOR AN­NAPO­LIS ROYAL

An­napo­lis Royal Mayor Bill Mac­Don­ald just found out a planet has been named af­ter Nova Sco­tia’s small­est town.

Dubbed (516560) An­napolis­royal, the tiny planet is about as big around as it’s name­sake and is the first space ob­ject David Balam has named af­ter a com­mu­nity – and he’s named a lot of space ob­jects.

“It’s a won­der­ful recog­ni­tion of An­napo­lis Royal and the piv­otal role it played in the early ori­gins and col­o­niza­tion of our na­tion,” said Mac­Don­ald. “It truly is the cra­dle of our na­tion.”

Vic­to­ria, B. C. astronomer David Balam dis­cov­ered ( 516560) An­napolis­royal on Dec. 12, 2006 at Mau­nakea Ob­ser­va­to­ries at the 4,200- me­tre sum­mit of Mau­nakea in Hawaii. Since then var­i­ous other ob­ser­va­tions and or­bital ver­i­fi­ca­tions have been done. It’s been a long road, but late at night on Sept. 27 it be­came of­fi­cial.

“The Town of An­napo­lis Royal, Nova Sco­tia, is rec­og­nized as the cra­dle of the Cana­dian na­tion for its prom­i­nent role in the coun­try’s early ori­gins and re­mains in­flu­en­tial as a leader in her­itage stew­ard­ship and preser­va­tion,” Balam said in an email to Mac­Don­ald Sept. 28.

“In essence, you have been hon­oured by the nam­ing of a small planet, lo­cated be­tween the or­bits of Mars and Jupiter,” he told Mac­Don­ald. “The nam­ing be­came of­fi­cial late last night and for­ever more the planet is known as (516560) An­napolis­Royal. Cur­rently, it is 434 mil­lion kilo­me­tres dis­tant and about to go be­hind the sun. It was last ob­served and mea­sured on July 18. The mi­nor planet takes 4.6 years to go around the sun.”

By small planet, Balam means that (516560) An­napolis­royal is about 1.5 kilo­me­tres in di­am­e­ter, or roughly the same size as the town it­self.

Ex­plod­ing Stars

Balam said the story lead­ing to the dis­cov­ery of (516560) An­napolis­royal be­gan in De­cem­ber 2001 when he ac­cepted a po­si­tion with the Canada- France Legacy Sur­vey, a con­sor­tium of Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties and the Paris Ob­ser­va­tory, to dis­cover ex­tra- ga­lac­tic su­per­novae - ex­plod­ing stars in far dis­tant gal­ax­ies.

“The aim of the sur­vey was to map out the ex­pan­sion ge­om­e­try of the uni­verse us­ing these ex­plod­ing stars as ce­les­tial yard sticks,” Balam said. The sur­vey was con­ducted us­ing the Canada- France- Hawaii tele­scope on Mau­nakea from 2001 to 2007.

“The gi­ant mo­saic de­tec­tor al­lowed us to pho­to­graph an area of sky ap­prox­i­mately four times the area of the full moon to a depth such that we could de­tect ob­jects more than 10 mil­lion times fainter than the faintest star that can be seen with the hu­man eye on a clear and dark night,” he said.

Be­sides the more than 100,000 gal­ax­ies that would be de­tected on any given field there were a great many ob­jects like comets, as­ter­oids, and satel­lites cross­ing the fields of view on any given night, he said.

Mi­nor Plan­ets

“By the end of the sur­vey more than 700 mi­nor plan­ets had been dis­cov­ered as well as two TRAN­SNEP­TU­NIAN (outer so­lar sys­tem) ob­jects and sev­eral Earth-cross­ing ob­jects, one of which is a po­ten­tial ‘im­pactor’ and could be quite danger­ous to our planet.”

It took 12 years of ob­serva- tion and cal­cu­la­tions to ver­ify (516560) An­napolis­royal’s or­bital path.

About An­napo­lis Royal

In an in­ter­view, Balam said he chose An­napo­lis Royal be­cause he had al­ready named many ob­jects af­ter fa­mous Cana­dian as­tronomers, sci­en­tists and in­sti­tu­tions and wanted to hon­our Cana­dian his­tory.

Balam said he’s proud of be­ing a Cana­dian. “Canada has al­ways been ex­tremely kind to me, and I feel I owe some­thing back. So I thought okay, let’s look at some of the most his­toric parts of Canada and we hon­our that.”

What Wikipedia Said

“David D. Balam ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_D.Balam) is a Cana­dian astronomer and a re­search as­so­ci­ate with the Univer­sity of Vic­to­ria’s Depart­ment of Physics and As­tron­omy, in Vic­to­ria, Bri­tish Columbia. Spe­cial­iz­ing in the search for Near- Earth Ob­jects, Balam is one of the world’s most pro­lific con­trib­u­tors to this re­search; only two as­tronomers have made more dis­cov­er­ies than Balam. He is cred­ited with the dis­cov­ery or co- dis­cov­ery of more than 600 as­ter­oids, over a thou­sand ex­tra- ga­lac­tic su­per­novae, and no­vae in the galaxy M31. Balam is also co- cred­ited for the 1997 dis­cov­ery of Comet Zhu- Balam.

“Among ce­les­tial bodies dis­cov­ered by Balam are the as­ter­oid 150145 Uvic which he named for the Univer­sity of Vic­to­ria, and 197856 Tafel­musik, named for the Baroque Orches­tra in Toronto.

Cur­rently, Balam con­ducts an op­ti­cal tran­sient sur­vey (OTS) us­ing the 1.82-m Plas­kett Tele­scope of the Na­tional Re­search Coun­cil of Canada.

“The as­ter­oid 3749 Balam is named in his hon­our, rec­og­niz­ing the fact that he de­vel­oped most of the soft­ware for the univer­sity’s as­tro­met­ric pro­gram on mi­nor plan­ets and comets.”

In these two pic­tures, marked in a red box, is (516560) An­napolis­royal, a small planet dis­cov­ered by David Balam. One is a white back­ground with black stars and gal­ax­ies. The other is white with stars and gal­ax­ies on a black back­ground. This is one of 15 images ac­quired of the ob­ject on the night of Dec. 12, 2006. There are a dozen or so stars and all the rest (fuzzy ob­jects) are very, very dis­tant gal­ax­ies, some as far away at 10 bil­lion light years.

DAVID BALAM

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