A main belt asteroid, No. 274301, has been named after Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The information became available on the Minor Planet Center‘s website recently. Its estimated diameter is about 1–2 kilometers (around 1 mile).
The decision of the Committee for Small Body Nomenclature to assign the name “Wikipedia” to the asteroid was published in the Minor Planet Circular of January 27, published online on January 30, page 82403. The name was proposed by a member of Wikimedia Ukraine. It was submitted to the Committee by the head of the Andrushivka Astronomical Observatory, Ukraine‘s only private observatory, Yuri Ivashchenko.
The official citation of the name says:
Wikipedia is a free, copyleft, collaboratively edited online encyclopedia launched in 2001. In 11 years of its compilation it became one of the largest reference works and one of the most visited web-sites on the Internet. It is developed in more than 270 languages by enthusiasts from all over the world.
The asteroid 274301 Wikipedia was discovered by the team of astronomers of Andrushivka Astronomical Observatory. At first it was observed by that team on August 25, 2008 at 22:47 (UTC). It was also observed on the next night and two weeks later on September 6. It received the provisional designation 2008 QH24. The accurate calculation of its orbit showed that asteroid 2008 QH24 is the same as 1997 RO4 and 2007 FK34. This asteroid had been previously spotted by observatories including Caussols-ODAS in France, and Mt. Lemmon Survey and Steward Observatory in Arizona, US. Wikipedia orbits the sun every 3.68 years – or in other words, if one were to measure age in Wikipedia years, the free encyclopedia was launched just about 3.28 Wikipedia years ago.
On behalf of Wikimedia Ukraine:
A prior version of this story was published by the English Wikinews on January 31