Asteroid named by Dr. Vishnu Reddy after North Dakota Aviation Visionary John D. Odegard
Aviation visionary John D. Odegard, founder and first dean of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, received a rare celestial honor recently when the International Astronomical Union approved an asteroid to be named after him.
The asteroid was named 2003FB120 (156939) Odegard following approval was by the 16-member Committee on Small Body Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union (IAU); the new name was published in the Minor Planet Circular from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Dr. Vishnu Reddy, a research faculty member in the UND Department of Space Studies (which is part of the Odegard School) nominated the aviation pioneer’s name through a citation after discovering the asteroid.
The official citation published by the IAU reads, "John D. Odegard (1941-1998), born in Minot, North Dakota, was an aviation visionary who started the flight-training program at the University of North Dakota in 1968."
Asteroid Odegard orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter in what is called the Main Asteroid Belt. Preliminary studies suggest that the asteroid orbits the Sun at an average distance of 234 million miles once every four years and has a diameter between 1 and 2 miles.
Over the last seven years, Asteroid Odegard was tracked by observatories around the world to more accurately define its orbit before it was approved for naming by the Minor Planet Center at Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
Reddy, a well-known asteroid hunter, discovered Asteroid Odegard in March 2003 from the Goodricke-Pigott Observatory in collaboration with Roy Tucker, an imaging specialist and amateur astronomer in Tucson, Arizona.
Reddy has discovered 23 main belt asteroids, several binary asteroid systems and a supernova. He is currently studying the compositions of near-Earth asteroids with Dr. Mike Gaffey and Dr. Paul Hardersen in the Department of Space Studies. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Near-Earth Object Observation Planetary Geology and Geophysics program and Dawn Participating Scientist program support Reddy’s research at UND.