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Asteroid named after Dill Faulkes

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Dill Faulkes, a British entrepreneur, has had a minor planet named after him in recognition of his contribution to science education.

The asteroid 1999 PY, which orbits the Sun in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, has officially been dubbed "47144 Faulkes". It was discovered on 7 August 1999 by Jana Tichá and Milos Tichý at the Klet Observatory in the Czech Republic.

Faulkes has donated over £10m through his educational charity to fund the construction of two remotely controllable, robotic telescopes.The project arose because Faulkes wanted to encourage kids to enjoy science and allow schools access to research class telescopes.

Jay Tate, director of the International Spaceguard Information Centre, developed an educational programme by which schools can use the telescopes to track asteroids as they move across the sky, and learn more about them as they do so. He says that professional astronomers in this field are "green with envy" at the facilities being used by the kids.

The scopes, each with a two-metre primary mirror, are sited on the Hawaiian island of Maui and in New South Wales, Australia. They have night views while it is daytime in the UK, making them perfect for use in school time. Faulkes aims to reach half a million children every year with the project. ®

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