Frank Kameny Blazes Through the Skies

As some of you know, Frank Kameny was the real thing, one of the great trailblazers in the American gay-rights movement. In the 1950s, he worked as an astronomer for U.S. Army map service—until they discovered he was gay, and fired him. He spent his life fighting back, and by the time he died last October, he had been vindicated. He was in the room when President Barack Obama signed the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." He had a Washington, D.C. street named after him. How do you top that?

You name an asteroid after him, that's how:

When astronomer Gary Billings read Kameny’s obituary, he consulted with others in the astronomy world. They decided to submit a citation to the Paris-based International Astronomical Union and the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., seeking to designate Minor Planet 40463 as Frankkameny. ... After Billings read Kameny’s obituary, he wrote to Kinne. “Hey, I have a few asteroids I discovered that I haven’t named yet,” he said. “What do you say we name one after Frank?” “I was utterly floored,” Kinne said. “To me, this is a big deal.” Billings told Kinne he was moved by hearing the story of how he had met Kameny about three years ago in Washington and many passers-by stopped to thank him for his advocacy. “I concluded he was a man I would have admired,” Billings wrote to Kinne. “Add that to the fact that I have many friends and acquaintances who are members of the LGBT community, and I felt it was something I wanted to do to honour Dr. Kameny — and my friends!”

We always looked up to him. Now we can look up at him. Brilliant. 

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