Asteroid named to honor Hebrew University


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The International Astronomical Union named an asteroid in honor of the Hebrew University.

Asteroid 271,763 was discovered by David Levy and Wendee Levy of Arizona, and Tom Glinos of Canada. Levy is a Canadian astronomer and science writer who co-discovered the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 that collided with Jupiter in 1994.

Levy, who has discovered or co-discovered 22 comets and more than 150 asteroids, wanted to name an asteroid after the Hebrew University since completing his doctorate in its English department in June 2010, the university said in a statement. His dissertation explored the relationship between the night sky and the works of Shakespeare and other writers in the early modern period of English literature.

The union’s Committee on Small Body Nomenclature is charged with approving names for asteroids, which are considered small planets, and comets. After rejecting the  proposed name Hebrewuniversity as being too long, the committee accepted Hebrewu. The asteroid’s name was announced recently.

"Perhaps someday the university, which I am proud to call an alma mater, will be able to put this new piece of real estate to good academic use," Levy wrote in a letter to the university. "In the meantime, it is a world with sunrises and sunsets, much smaller but similar to our own."

The asteroid is located in the asteroid belt that stretches between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter.

Only a few asteroids have been named for people or places in Israel, including Jerusalem, Israel’s first astronaut Ilan Ramon, and writer and satirist Ephraim Kishon. It is estimated that fewer than 20 universities worldwide have an asteroid named for them.

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