The Story of (198717) Szymczyk, by the Discoverer Andrew Lowe

The Story of (198717) Szymczyk, by the Discoverer Andrew Lowe


On February 13, 2005, I discovered a faint unknown asteroid while taking pictures of the night sky with a remotely-controlled telescope in New Mexico. This object was assigned the provisional designation 2005 CM61 by the Minor Planet Center. After its orbit was refined with additional observations, the asteroid was numbered (198717) in November of 2008. As discoverer, I had the privilege to name the object.

Enter Bill Szymczyk into the story. In early 2015, my wife Blythe and I took a seven-week cruise to South America on the Ruby Princess. Among the many people we met on the cruise were Bill and his wife Lisi. It was a treat to hear of Bill's career in the American music industry, working with many notable rock and blues bands. As a bonus, when Bill and Lisi joined our team on the Ruby Princess for Classic Rock Trivia, we were unbeatable! When I realized that Bill's birthday of February 13 matched the discovery day of (198717) 2005 CM61, and in acknowledgment of his numerous contributions to the recording industry, I decided to name the object in his honor.

(198717) Szymczyk is a very typical member of the outer asteroid belt. Based on its brightness, it is about 3 kilometers (2 miles) in diameter. It orbits the sun every 5.3 years at an average distance of 455,000,000 kilometers (283,000,000 miles). The orbit is nearly circular, and is tilted about 11 degrees to that of the earth.

Here is the citation as published on MPC 96937 by the Minor Planet Center on November 25, 2015:

(198717) Szymczyk = 2005 CM61
     Discovered 2005 Feb. 13 by A. Lowe at Mayhill.
     Bill Szymczyk (b. 1943) is an American music producer and audio engineer. 
He is associated with many top rock and blues albums and singles of the 1970s.
Three images of (198717) Szymczyk (inside the red circles) taken on July 18, 2002, at Palomar Observatory (NEAT Program), showing its motion across the sky. The horizontal stripes are due to artificial satellites.

Note that the images are reversed in brightness, which means that stars show as dark dots.

NEAT images are from SkyMorph, which is a NASA Applied Information Systems Research (AISR) funded project.