Asteroid Randi PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

IAU Asteroid 1981 QM
The International Astronomical Union recognized James Randi "in honor of unparalleled work," by renaming an asteroid. The asteroid now known as 3163 "Randi" had, up till then, the preliminary name "1981 QM".


More details:
Period of orbit: 3.71 years (1354.5 days)
Perihelion distance: 1.60 AU (Astronomical Unit)
Aphelion distance: 3.19 AU

In October 2007, its distance from Earth was 1.52341 AU (227,898,789 km = 141,609,742 miles). The asteroid would be visible in the constellation Pisces (morning sky) its magnitude is about 17. Now, that's a VERY faint "star" and we"re told it's about 12 km. in diameter.

Yet More Details....The official announcement by the International Astronomical Union, published in the Minor Planet Circular (MPC) of May 3, 1996, describes the asteroid as: (3163) Randi = 1981 QM. Discovered 28 August 1981 by C.T. Kowal at Mount Palomar Observatory, California.

Named in honor of the American magician James Randi (b. 1928; born name Randall James Hamilton Zwinge) for his continuing efforts in debunking the claims of the paranormal community and exposing the tricks that charlatans use. His use of scientific techniques in many disciplines has contributed to the refutation of suspicious and fraudulent claims of paranormal results. Name proposed by A. Dill and J. Meeus.

Andreas Dill states that the asteroid is in excellent company. He says: "In MPC 27127 we have (4923) Clarke, named for Arthur C. Clarke, and in MPC 27128 there is (5020) Asimov." Martin Gardner's rock is 2587 Gardner.

Sincere thanks to Andreas and Jean Dill, who applied to the IAU for this recognition.


Here’s an animated sequence - generously prepared by astronomer Rick Johnson - of fearless asteroid Randi touring the constellation Aquarius and all the rest of the planetoids in that crowded belt. Heedless of the possibility of colliding with another such object, sailing on bravely in space, here’s a brief glimpse of what was previously known as “QM 1981.”

The brief flash across the upper left of the frame is a passing satellite or bit of space junk...