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Phone: (605) 394-6082/2554 • Fax: (605) 394-6177
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2002
Contact: Steve Buchholz, Public Information Manager, 394-6082
Asteroid “South Dakota” Now Official
South Dakota now has a permanent place in space.
An asteroid named "#26715 SOUTH DAKOTA" was recently discovered and named by Ron Dyvig, director and owner of Badlands Observatory in Quinn.
The Committee for Small Bodies Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union approved the name Dyvig suggested during its March 2002 meeting. The asteroid is among a dozen other asteroids named after U.S. states.
Dyvig discovered the asteroid April 16, 2001, with his telescope that hosts a 26" diameter mirror, making it the largest telescope in the three-state area. Dyvig has used it since January 2001 to search for new asteroids as well as to participate in the goals of the international Spaceguard Foundation.
Participating observatories around the world catalog all of “near earth objects” (NEOs) that may represent a global impact hazard to Earth. Many scientists believe an asteroid impact caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
South Dakota’s namesake poses no impact hazard because it is a main belt asteroid located safely between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter 180 million miles from Earth. It is approximately 3 miles in diameter. Dyvig has discovered 25 other main belt asteroids at Badlands Observatory, but #26715 SOUTH DAKOTA is the first to receive permanent-named status.
"The dark skies in western South Dakota, combined with Ron Dyvig's extremely sensitive research-grade telescope, places Badlands Observatory in the company of
some of the world's best astronomical research facilities,” Sherry Farwell, director of the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium, said. Farwell also is director of Graduate Education and Research at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where the consortium is based. “We are very fortunate to have Badlands Observatory as an affiliate of our consortium."
For information, call Ron Dyvig at Badlands Observatory at 386-2105 or Tom Durkin at South Dakota Space Grant Consortium at 394-1975. Visit the consortium website at www.sdsmt.edu/space/bo.htm
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