Considering just how many asteroids there are in the asteroid belt, it can be difficult to come up with acceptable names for all of them. So, they are given obscure provisional names until a naming organization can bestow names on select celestial bodies. Most named asteroids are named after astronomers themselves, or the relatives of astronomers.
This week, Wikimedia announced that an asteroid has officially been named “274301 Wikipedia” after the open-source internet encyclopedia. The object is estimated to be 1 to 2 km (1 mile) wide and orbits the sun as part of the main asteroid belt.
The name was proposed by Andriy Makukha, a Wikimedia Ukraine board member. It was then submitted to the Committee for Small Body Nomenclature by Yuri Ivashchenko, the head astronomer at the Andrushivka Astronomical Observatory in Ukraine. The official naming was published last week in the the journal Minor Planet Circular, coincidentally the ninth anniversary of the first Ukrainian language Wikipedia article.
The asteroid itself was discovered on August 25, 2008 at the Andrushivka observatory. The object orbits the Sun once every 3.68 Earth days at 2.4 times the distance from Earth to the Sun.