July 25, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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Steinwicker rock floating in space.  An asteroid named Jacob Kuiper.  “It was my birthday three days ago.”

Steinwicker rock floating in space. An asteroid named Jacob Kuiper. “It was my birthday three days ago.”

Jacob Kuiper celebrated his birthday three days ago. “This feeling won’t go away.” Amateur astronomer Steenwijk says that’s because of the honor bestowed upon him unexpectedly this week. Of course, it is no small feat for a celestial body, in this case an asteroid more than 170 million kilometers from Earth, to be named after you. The asteroid 615355 Jacobkuiper will forever bear the name of the former KNMI meteorologist.

The object, with a diameter of one kilometer, takes a lot of time to revolve around the sun. It takes him at least 8.2 years, while it takes the Earth one year. The asteroid, which was discovered only in 2002, is not a massive object, but be careful, if this giant collides with our planet, a crater with a diameter of 10-20 kilometers will be created. All life within a radius of several hundred kilometers would be wiped out by the scorching heat. “But that will not happen with this asteroid,” Kuiper confirms.

A few months ago, Steinwecker in America saw the effect that a meteorite impact with a diameter of 50 meters can have. He traveled to the United States with his partner, Hiti Mattar, last April to experience the solar eclipse. During that trip, he also visited what Kuiper calls “the most beautiful remaining crater in the world” (Baringer Crater) in Arizona, where an impact 50,000 years ago left a crater 1,200 meters in diameter and 170 meters deep. The impact energy was about 10 million tons of TNT, and the object was almost completely vaporized, according to Kuiper.

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Returning to the Kuiper Rock, which received its “baptismal name” on the recommendation of the Dutch astronomer Dr. Marco Langbroek, lecturer at Delft University of Technology (TU), who is also the discoverer of the space rock. Kuiper owes his name to the asteroid to his decades-long efforts on behalf of the Meteor Working Group of the Royal Meteorological and Astronomical Society. Kuiper has not only observed meteors for 50 years, but has also often participated in major observing activities as a trainer/supervisor by supporting participants in making specific weather forecasts. His experience as a meteorologist at KNMI has always been helpful. Kuiper thought it was “wonderful” that Langbroke would reward him in this way.

Marco Langbroek is officially called the Lecturer of Situational Visual Space. Kuiper: “He monitors the sky and everything that flies around that could pose a danger to Earth. In this context, he is also an advisor to the government, for example when it comes to crashing satellites or asteroids. Only in the last fifteen years or so has it become a profession “Space Observer” is official.

Good company

By the way, Kuiper is not the only Dutchman whose name is linked to an asteroid. There are currently 406 asteroids with names associated with the Netherlands. According to Kuiper, many names are associated with astronomers, but sometimes the names of other scientists, writers, musicians, or even other geographical names were used. Kuiper is in good company. In 2009, this honor also went to journalist Jan Hunfeld, author of numerous scientific articles in Maple. Currently, about 700,000 asteroids have been numbered and their orbits are known, according to Kuiper. The number of asteroids observed in our solar system is estimated at about 1.4 million.

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Jacob Kuiper has been a member of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological and Astronomical Society since 1972. His fascination with astronomy began at an early age when his parents gave him a used telescope. “I could clearly see the craters on the Moon, and what was also strange was that when I focused on Saturn, I also saw the ring around that planet. I thought that was absolutely amazing and it has always stayed with me. I have also heard from others involved in astronomy. You stick with that For the rest of your life, it’s a wonder what you can see in the sky from Earth. “It’s still amazing,” Kuiper says.

Meteor chase

Observing meteorites has always received special attention. As a teenager in 1972, he spent an entire night in his parents’ garden watching meteors. He became a member of the Meteorites Working Group of the KNVWS. Sometimes, Kuiper himself went looking for meteorites at home and abroad, but more often he worked as a trainer for a group preparing weather forecasts for them. This is of course very important so that you can monitor properly. This was before the digital age, so Kuiper directed participants to places as far away as China, Australia and South Korea by phone.