Submitted by David on Mon, 09/24/2018 - 10:40am
I stumbled into amateur astronomy in 2007 after hearing about an extraordinary comet that had recently been recovered, comet 17P/Holmes. Working with my brother, we built two telescopes using sewer pipes and hardware based around some crappy mirrors I got off of Ebay. It didn’t take my photographer mind long to realize the telescope was just a huge lens, so I hooked up my camera after satisfying my need to view the comet myself. I never thought that would be one of those pivotal moments in life. I was astounded when I pointed the scope at the Great Orion Nebula and snapped a short exposure. The image came back full of color, and I was hooked.
From that point I never would have guessed that a hobby taking backyard snaps of deep space objects would turn into a scientific endeavor. After spending about 8 years taking “pretty pictures” of deep space with better and better equipment, I wondered if I could be doing something more useful with the telescope. I decided to see how difficult it would be to look for an asteroid or comet.
This again morphed into another pivotal moment. After a lot of research and mistakes I learned that there was room left for amateur astronomers to do follow-up work on newly found asteroids and comets along with a slight chance of discovering one! I stepped into a small and friendly community of astronomers that work on asteroid and comet discoveries hoping to make a small contribution to the science.
Today, thanks to one of these community members, I now have an asteroid that bears my name. I am extremely grateful to this community, and to Loren Ball from Emerald Lane Observatory for suggesting this name to the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center. The IAU has approved the name and published it today in the Minor Planet Circular MPC 112429-112436 (Link)
Interactive Orbit of (62701) Davidrankin:
Loren is an extraordinary guy. He ran a home observatory from 2000 to 2004 and during this time discovered over 100 asteroids. As discoverer of these asteroids, he gets to suggest more common names for them to the IAU. He has now honored a few amateurs like myself along with two other good friends, Daniel Bamberger and Guy Wells from Northolt Branch Observatories. Both Daniel and Guy have been instrumental in my success working with asteroids.
You can read about Loren’s work here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loren_C._Ball
This is now a lifelong endeavor for me. It is one of the most rewarding scientific fields I’ve taken part in, and very recently I've had to opportunity to convert this hobby into a career.
Thank you again Loren
Animation by Randy Flynn, Squirrel Valley Observatory
Image of (62701) Davidrankin shot by Patrick Wiggins on 04/08/2019