By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com July 10 2012 4:58 PM ET
An amateur astronomer who discovered an asteroid had named the celestial body after pioneering gay activist Frank Kameny, who died last year at age 86.
Canadian astronomer Gary Billings discovered Minor Planet 40463, located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. After learning about Kameny's life, he and a group of other astronomers have requested to name the asteroid Frankkameny, the Associated Press reports. Billings and Richard “Doc” Kinne, an astronomical technologist at the American Association of Variable Star Observers in Cambridge, Mass., told the AP that they wanted to honor Kameny even though he was pushed out of the astronomy field.
Kameny was a Harvard-educated astronomer who worked for the U.S. Army Map Service through the 1950s. When it was discovered that he was he was gay, he was fired. Kameny contested the firing all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and he organized the first gay rights protests in front of the White House, and the Pentagon.
The citation officially naming the asteroid on July 3 notes Kameny's astronomy career, as well as his roots in gay rights.