Asteroid Skywalker

—2015-August

Asteroid or minor planet 274020 Skywalker was named for the fictional characters Luke and Anakin in the Star Wars universe. The space rock, about 2.5 Km in size, circles the Sun every five and a half years between the paths of Mars and Jupiter. It was discovered by the German amateur astronomers Stefan Karge and Erwin Schwab. They detected the minor planet from the Taunus Observatory, located in the Taunus mountain range close to Frankfurt am Main (Germany), using a cassegrain telescope with 0.6 meter diameter and the camera SBIG STL-11000M.

It was already discovered on 2007 September 12. But until the discoverers could suggest a Name, it took several years. Only when the discovery has been confirmed by other observatories and the calculated orbit reaches a high accuracy due to many measurements, the new object can be named. Minor planet Skywalker was named 8 years after the discovery.

The Taunus Observatory is operated by the Physikalischer Verein Frankfurt, which is one of Germany’s oldest associations, founded in 1824.  With about 100 minor planet discoveries it is one of the most successfull observatories in Germany.

The naming was published in the minor planet circular # 93068 as follows:

(274020) Skywalker = 2007 RW15
Discovered 2007 Sept. 12 by S. Karge and E. Schwab at Taunus.
Skywalker is the family name of the fictional characters Luke and Anakin in the Star Wars universe.

Pictures of the teleskope used for discovery and the discoverers Stefan Karge (left) and Erwin Schwab (right)

 

Orbit_Skywalker

Our planetary system at date of discovery © Erwin Schwab

 

 

Animation of discovery frames. Field of view 8×7 arcminutes from total field of 60×45 arcminutes. Skywalker is the moving object in the center.

bullet Minor Planet (274020) Skywalker @ JPL – NASA