05/2006 EAAS Member Recieves Top IAU Award Print

An asteroid has recently been named for EAAS member Martin McKenna by the International Astronomical Union. Martin who comes from Maghera, Co. Londonderry, has been interested in astronomy for a number of years, and specializes in comet hunting. He has so far spent over 1000 hours searching for that elusive comet “McKenna”. However, he has now got his own piece of real estate in the sky as “(42531) McKenna”.

Proposer, John McConnellMartin McMcKenna with asteroid discoverer, David Asher

The asteroid name was officially announced on 15th May 2006 at a recent meeting of the East Antrim Astronomical Society of which Martin is a valued member.

Mrs. McKenna, Martin McKenna, Dr. David Asher the discoverer of teh asteroid, John C McConnell FRAS who proposed the nameMartin McKenna with his 2 awards

It was discovered in June 1995 by Dr David Asher using the UK Schmidt telescope at the Anglo Australian Observatory, Siding Spring, New South Wales. It orbits the Sun close to the inner edge of the main asteroid belt which lies between the planets Mars and Jupiter, and is roughly 10km in diameter. The asteroid is travelling at about 22 miles per second and takes around 3 ½ years to orbit the Sun. The full official citation reads as follows:

“(42531) McKenna = 1995 LJ. Discovered 1995 June 5 by DJ Asher at Siding Spring. Martin McKenna (b.1978) was named 2005 Astronomer of the Year by the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies. An avid visual comet hunter and all – round observer, he also undertakes a photographic search for novae”.

Orbit simulation below.


The name was suggested by fellow member John C McConnell, who described Martin as, “One of the most meticulous and prolific observers we have come to know in recent years. And it is mainly for this dedication that he is awarded this great honour”.

Martin was also honoured this year by receiving the Astronomer of the Year 2005 award issued by the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies.

Martin’s fascination for astronomy started ten years ago when he bought a small telescope. He now uses a 16-inch reflector to scan the heavens on every clear night in the hope of discovering his very own comet. In the meantime he can be very satisfied in joining a select group of people already honoured by the IAU by having an asteroid named after them.


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