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Asteroid Named For Astronomer, Gay Rights Pioneer Frank Kameny

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The late Frank Kameny standing in front of several protest signs.
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The late Frank Kameny standing in front of several protest signs.

A Canadian amateur astronomer who discovered several asteroids has named one after gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny, who died last year in Washington.

Frank Kameny was a U.S. government astronomer in the 1950s who was fired from his job for being gay. He contested the firing all the way to the Supreme Court and organized the first gay rights protests outside the White House in the 1960s.

Kameny died last year at age 86.

When current astronomer Gary Billings heard about Kameny's death, he consulted with others in the astronomy world. They decided to submit a proposal to the Paris-based International Astronomical Union and Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass. to designate the rock hurtling through space known as Minor Planet 40463, as Frankkameny. There are more than 17,000 named asteroids, and many more that are not named. 

A published citation naming the asteroid this month notes Kameny's history as a gay rights pioneer.

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