Close encounter with Planet Smale

Michael Woloschuk

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More than 60 colleagues and admirers packed CityU's Neptune Room to witness the official ceremony dedicating Minor Planet 10287 to Distinguished University Professor Stephen Smale .

The minor planet was discovered in 1982 by L G Karachkin of the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Russia. The idea for naming the asteroid after Professor Smale was suggested by Professor Victor Yudovich, of Russia’s Rostov State University.

“We still don't know if there’s life on Mars-and now the question is, ‘Is there life on Planet Smale?’” joked Professor Yudovich at the ceremony.

Planet Smale is approximately seven kilometres in diameter and is about 128 million kilometres from the earth and 276 million kilometres from the sun.

Professor Smale, whose significant achievements in science and mathematics led to the naming of the minor planet in his honour, said he was happy that his long association with Russia was partly responsible for the dedication of the asteroid in his name. “I especially appreciate the Russian connection,” he said.

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