Look through a telescope, a bit to the right and then straight ahead. Can you see Hebrewu? Named for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently designated an asteroid in honor of the Israeli campus.
Asteroid 271,763 was discovered by Dr. David H. Levy and Wendee Levy and Tom Glinos. Levy is one of the most successful comet discoverers in history. He wanted to name an asteroid after HU since completing a PhD at its English Department in June 2010.
“Perhaps someday the university, which I am proud to call an alma mater, will be able to put this new piece of real estate to good academic use. In the meantime, it is a world with sunrises and sunsets, much smaller but similar to our own,” wrote Levy.
Only a few asteroids have been named for people or places in Israel, including Jerusalem, its first astronaut Ilan Ramon, and the writer and satirist Ephraim Kishon. It is estimated that less than 20 universities worldwide have an asteroid named after them.
“The Hebrew University is delighted by Dr. Levy’s extraordinary gesture and proud to join the exclusive list of institutions whose names are recorded among the stars. Alluding to that which transpires beyond our planet’s atmosphere, this gesture aptly symbolizes the Hebrew University’s ambition to break through the limits of knowledge and research,” said Hebrew University President Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson.
Located in the asteroid belt that stretches between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter, Hebrewu poses no threat to Planet Earth and is not expected to draw near any time soon.