Acting legend and iconic “Star Trek” figure Leonard Nimoy now has an asteroid named in his honor. Several media outlets got clever with the idea, noting that it was “only logical” and “fascinating,” two familiar character catchphrases associated with the Mr. Spock, the popular character portrayed by Nimoy for nearly half a century.
Universe Today reported June 6 that asteroid 4864 Nimoy has become the official designation of the asteroid formerly known as 1988 RA5. The asteroid is roughly 6 miles (10 kilometers) across and is in the main belt of rocky debris that exists between the planets Mars and Jupiter. The newly re-christened asteroid orbits the Sun once every 3.9 years.
The Minor Planet Center announced the renaming on June 2, briefly mentioning that Leonard Nimoy portrayed the half human-half Vulcan First Officer Mr. Spock on the cult classic television series “Star Trek” and its subsequently generated movie franchise. The announcement noted he was an author of two autobiographies, I Am Not Spock and I Am Spock, and a director and poet. The release also acknowledged the 1988 discovery of the asteroid by H. Debehogne of the European Southern Observatory.
Nimoy passed away in February at the age of 83. (Phil Plait at “Bad Astronomy” posted the position of 4864 Nimoy on the date of the actor’s death.) Although he was a man of many talents (he was also a singer, songwriter, and photographer), his portrayal of Mr. Spock would become his gift to pop culture. The New York Times made note of the fact that his last appearance in film had also been as the stoic Mr. Spock, a character he first brought to life in 1964, in 2013’s “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” the second offering in the J. J. Abrams reboot of the successful movie franchise.
Leonard Nimoy is just the latest “Star Trek” celebrity to have an asteroid named in their honor. Thus far, Gene Roddenberry, the creator of “Star Trek,” Nichelle Nichols (who played Lt. Uhura), and George Takei (Mr. Sulu) all have asteroids bearing their names (4659 Roddenberry, 4307 Takei, and 68410 Nichols, respectively).
Other asteroids bearing names of major science fiction-related celebrities include director George Lucas (“Star Wars,” 28600 Georgelucas), director Steven Spielberg (“Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” 25930 Spielberg), director Stanley Kubrick (“2001: A Space Odyssey,” 10221 Kubrick), actor Edward James Olmos (“Battlestar Galactica,” 5608 Olmos), actor Robin Williams (“Mork From Ork,” 12820 Robinwilliams), and actors Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (“Gravity,” 78453 Bullock and 22903 Georgeclooney, respectively).