Two students in this year’s Frederick County Public Schools’ Asteroid Hunters program discovered asteroids never before catalogued and earned rights to name them! The only other schools in the U.S. with students achieving this honor are in Hawaii and Texas. The FCPS students are 11th grader Susanna Chen from Walkersville High and 10th grader Kaitlyn Murray from Oakdale High.
“This is a REALLY big deal,” says Lisa Bruck, who co-directs the FCPS Earth and Space Science Lab (ESSL) with Jeff Grills.
Asked what the students will name their asteroids, Ms. Bruck said she doesn’t know yet.
“It’s likely to take nearly six years for the students’ asteroid discoveries and names to meet required protocols through the Minor Planet Center, housed at Harvard University,” she explained.
Susanna and Kaitlyn were part of a group of 16 local students who participated in the program at the ESSL. FCPS Natelli Telescope Operator Jerry Gunn led the FCPS Asteroid Hunters group.
Argentina, China, India, Poland, Portugal and the Ukraine also had students who made first-time discoveries of asteroids, for a total of only 17 discovered worldwide as part of a project called the International Astronomical Search Collaboration. Students used data from observatories around the world.