Leonard Nimoy made an indelible mark on pop culture with his iconic Star Trek character Mr. Spock, and now the actor, who died earlier this year, has made a mark on the cosmos as well. The Minor Planet Center just announced that it’s named an asteroid in Nimoy’s honor.
4864 Nimoy is described as a “mountain-sized rock” that’s about six miles across. It’s found within the inner portion of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and it orbits the sun every 3.9 years. The asteroid was discovered back in 1988, but was finally given an official name earlier this week.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time Nimoy’s been connected to an asteroid: Back in 1971, James Gibson dubbed a newly discovered asteroid 2309 Mr. Spock. Technically, however, Gibson was naming the asteroid after his cat, who was presumably named after the Star Trek character. (Weird fact of the day: The International Astronomical Union now “discourages” using pet names for asteroids.)
When it comes to spotting 4864 Nimoy, amateur astronomer Bob King of Universe Today advises:
This month, Spock’s “star” doesn’t get any brighter than 16th magnitude as it slowly tracks from Capricornus into Sagittarius in the late night sky. Come mid-July, amateurs with 14-inch or larger telescopes might glimpse it when it brightens to magnitude 15.