An Asteroid aka minor planet bearing the alphanumeric name 2006VP32 (number 300128), discovered in November in 2006, has been christened 'Panditjasraj' after Indian legendary classical singer Pandit Jasraj. The number assigned to the asteroid, 300128, is Pandit Jasraj's birth date in reverse.

The announcement was made by the US space agency NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on September 23. "Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj is an exponent of Indian classical vocal music... His distinctive voice traverses a remarkable four-and-a-half octaves," NASA mentioned.

The naming of the asteroid has been approved by International Astronomical Union (IAU).

The asteroid, which lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in a region called the asteroid main belt, was discovered in 2006 by the Mount Lemmom Observatory in Arizona. It is estimated that millions of irregular and spherical objects of varying sizes, called either asteroids or minor planets, can be found in this region.

Notably, as of September'19, there are 5,41,131 numbered asteroids of a total of 7,97,078 observed bodies, with the rest being unnumbered minor planets.

Pandit Jasraj is the first Indian classical musician to be bestowed with such honour. Other classical musicians to have /asteroids/minor planets named after them include Mozart, Beethoven and Luciano Pavarotti.

Born in 1930 in British Punjab, Pandit Jasraj is associated with the Mewati gharana of Hindustani classical music. He has received honours like the Padma Vibhushan and Sangeet Natak Academi Award, and is known for being a mentor to many well-known musicians.

Meanwhile, Scientists of India's Public Outreach and Education Committee of Astronomical Society of India (ASI-POEC) were unaware of the development, and said neither did IAU officially approach Indian Astronomical community to seek any inputs nor this process bestows any unique honour, reported Hindustan Times.

“IUA gives away the rights to name non-interesting minor planets to a clutch of private companies, largely 10 years after they are discovered, where individuals can name these astronomical bodies at a cost. In this case, there’s 90% chance that a fan named the minor planet after Pandit Jasraj for a price," said Aniket Sule, Chair, ASI-POEC to Hindustan Times.

Via ~ The Hindu

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