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Asteroids named in honour of Saanich Peninsula residents

Chris Gainor and Lauri Roche received the honour from the International Astronomy Union

Asteroids have been named after two Saanich Peninsula residents.

Sidney’s Chris Gainor and Brentwood Bay’s Lauri Roche received the honour from the International Astronomy Union along with 38 other people.

“This is a different kind of honour,” Gainor said. “I was surprised when I heard. I’m still wrapping my mind around it.”

Roche’s asteroid has been named 20035 Lauriroche and Gainor’s is called 20041 Gainor. Both are in the main asteroid belt.

“Mine is between Mars and Jupiter,” Gainor said. “It takes about four years to go around the sun.”

Gainor has worn many hats, including spending time as a reporter and the president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He is also a historian and has written several papers and books about space flight and astronomy, including Not Yet Imagined: A Study of Hubble Space Telescope Operations, which NASA published in 2021.

“This honour might be some recognition for that work,” Gainor added. “I’m pleased to do my part.”

Roche has been teaching people about space for decades. She is a retired math teacher, a board member of the Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and a member and former president of the Victoria chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, where she has volunteered since 1995.

“Lauri has done a lot of work popularizing astronomy around here,” Gainor said.

Roche and Gainor haven’t seen their asteroids yet.

“It’s on the other side of the sun from the Earth right now,” Gainor said about his asteroid. “It would be very hard to see. Even when it was closer to us, you would need a pretty good telescope to see it. Maybe I’ll use the telescope at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in a few months. It won’t be that close to the sun so it’ll be easier to see.”

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