July 24 , 2006
Asteroid Williamon named after physics professor
BY Kate Bennett
When you wish upon a star this summer, check to see if instead it’s Asteroid Williamon.
Emory astronomer Richard Williamon, director of the University’s planetarium and observatory, received an unexpected honor this past spring when one of his former students at the Fernbank Science Center discovered an asteroid and named it after him.
Adam Block, who is now a professional astronomer in Arizona, discovered the orbiting body one evening in 2000 and refined the orbit to the point of naming the object by late 2005. Block made the announcement and gave a certificate to Williamon at a meeting of the Atlanta Astronomy Club—much to Williamon’s surprise.
Block said he followed the time-honored custom of naming an asteroid “not after the person who discovered it but after another deserving person.” For Block, that person is Williamon—someone who influenced him strongly as a young man at Fernbank and who nurtured his passion for astronomy.
“The naming of Asteroid Williamon is the second wonderful gift given to me by Adam,” said Williamon, who was an astronomer at Fernbank before joining Emory’s physics department as a full-time faculty member in 2002. “The first was the joy and inspiration that can be given to a teacher only by a dedicated, superlative student such as Adam. I feel fortunate to have played a very small part in Adam’s success—who’s one of the best astrophotographers on the entire planet.
“The second great gift of the asteroid name is simply awesome,” he said. “I have not yet found the words to articulate how deeply honored and moved I am. As ephemeral as everything on our planet has proven to be, Asteroid Williamon will be a long-lived testament to the mutual respect and admiration shared by a student and his very proud teacher.”
To find out more about Minor Planet Williamon 45298 (2000 AE42) visit