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What’s that up in the sky? Asteroid Rebeccawatson, of course!

Jeff Medkeff is a blogger, lecturer, swell guy, & Blue Collar Scientist.  Specifically, he’s an astronomer; the kind of guy who discovers asteroids.   By long-standing custom, the discoverer of an asteroid has the privilege of proposing a name for it.   For the asteroid he and David Healy discovered on March 22, 2001, Medkeff chose “Rebeccawatson”, to honor our fearless leader! w00t! 

“Rebecca really deserves this honor,” says Medkeff, who proposed the name. “She has provided a much-needed injection of enthusiasm and humor into science education. But just as important is the way she’s encouraged so many women to become involved. certainly encouraged me to be “out” as a skeptic in my day-to-day life.   It was easier to see that there were other girls like me.  Okay, like me but funnier, and able to drink more beer.

 The naming citation reads: Rebecca Watson (b. 1980), once a street juggler and magician, promotes science and rational thinking as publisher of the Skepchick blog, a personality on the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast, and as host of the radio show Curiosity Aroused.

 Medkeff points out that although more than half a million asteroids are known, only a small minority are named.

Having an asteroid named in recognition of a person’s achievements and character is a rare honor and is considered to be a unique achievement in a person’s life.

Even cooler, “Rebeccawatson” (numbered 153289)  joins three other newly-Blue-Collar-Scientist-named asteroids: “Philplait” (numbered 165347) for The Bad Astronomer,  “Stackpole” (number 156612) for esteemed writer Michael Stackpole, and “Paulmyers” (numbered 153298) for PZ Myers.

 Now, if that isn’t stellar skeptical company, I don’t know what is.   If I ever “wish I may, I wish I might,” these are the heavenly bodies I’m turning to, without a doubt.

 Congratulations to Rebecca (and her skeptical superfriends!)  on this terrific honor.  For any of you who already thought she was out of this world, here’s your proof.         


A B Kovacs is the Director of Døøm at Empty Set Entertainment, a publishing company she co-founded with critical thinker and fiction author Scott Sigler. She considers herself a “Creative Adjacent” — helping creative people be more productive and prolific by managing the logistics of Making for the masses. She's a science nerd, a rabid movie geek, and an unrepentantly voracious reader. She doesn't like chocolate all that much.

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  1. Had a feeling it was something like this when Rebecca hinted at some “astronomical” news last night at Skeptics in the Pub. She wouldn’t break street date on the actual info, but her hints led me in this direction :)

  2. Oh, great. You just know this is gonna be the one that smacks into the Earth and dooms us all to our fiery/crushy or tidal wavey or frozen/starvy ends. Thanks a frickin’ lot, asteroid Rebeccawatson.

    (Nah, but seriously, that is totally sweet.)

  3. Congratulations Rebecca! Don’t miss out on this golden opportunity to start a new world religion.

  4. Thanks, A, and everyone! This is pretty rad, and I am taking suggestions for how best to exploit this. As Chris says, a new world religion might be fun, or I was thinking of selling real estate. This will take very careful consideration.

    But of course, huge thanks to Jeff “Blue Collar Scientist” Medkeff for thinking of me. Now I don’t need to have a baby to achieve immortality.

  5. I had not anticipated this when Rebecca was dropping hints last night. Now, though, I’m tickled pink by the question, “How many people have both an asteroid named in their honor and a reputation for hosting parties that get broken up by Security?”

  6. Blake: Like an Erdos-Bacon number, only cooler?

    A Watson number, perhaps? Distance to someone who has an asteroid named in their honour plus distance to someone who has a reputation for hosting parties that get broken up by hotel security in Las Vegas. The lowest possible value is 2, which Rebecca has.

  7. I’ll be down for the religion as long as I can get some sort of position in the hierarchy. A missionary one works fine for me.

    (I didn’t originally plan on making that joke, but as I typed it I sort of HAD to)

    But yeah, I’d be pretty happy being the Pope or Prophet of Doom for this sect.

  8. The folks at the observatory at Brazos Bend State Park in Texas have named asteroids and explained the process to me – I even watched them track one on one very late night until 3:00 a.m.

    It is truly an honor for you all. Congratulations!

  9. Rock on Rebecca!! Or is it, Rebecca is a rock!!!
    The “High Hat Monkey” Asteroid would be the penultimate triumph!!!

  10. Holy crap, that’s awesome! Also, as if having a freakin’ asteroid named after her isn’t enough, discovering this nugget of information:

    Rebecca Watson (b. 1980), once a street juggler and magician

    has made me actually fall in love with Rebecca.

  11. Wait a sec, Joshua: isn’t a person’s distance from themselves zero, not one? That’s how the ErdÅ‘s number is defined. By analogy, Rebecca should have a Watson number of 0 (as might other individuals as yet unknown), while you and I have Watson numbers of 2. A person who has thrown a party which was broken up by Security but does not have an asteroid named in their honor (or vice versa) has a Watson number of 1.

  12. Yayyy! So what are you going to do with your asteroid? I think you should paint it pink.

    What do you mean “horribly misunderstood the situation”?

  13. This is truly awesome, congratulations!

    On the other hand, what if Rebecca’s rock turns out to be a Doomsday asteroid? I can only imagine that: “Rebecca is going to smack us hard. We’re doomed! Dooooooomed!”

  14. Of course, based on the first Skepchick calendar, we all knew already that Rebecca had a heavenly body….

    …And now it’s official!

  15. Have no fear– I shall appropriate the Illudium Pew-36 Explosive Space Modulator before they even know what’s happening!

  16. Great! BIG Congratulations!

    After a couple of minutes, I realized how you can exploit this: radio broadcasters won’t reject a celebrity, so Curiosity Aroused may now go on.

    Which means more work!

  17. Augustus: It’s true, I’m totally psychic! This also proves that New Year’s resolutions really are good for something. (So long as they’re vague enough…)

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