Asteroid 4942 Munroe

Whoa. There’s an asteroid named after me!

Amazing xkcd readers Lewis Hulbert and Jordan Zhu noticed that the International Astronomical Union—the organization in charge of official astronomical naming—was taking suggestions for what to name small Solar System objects. They submitted my name for asteroid (4942) 1987 DU6, and it was subsequently renamed 4942 Munroe.

I’m really touched. I spent all weekend telling everyone who wanted to listen (and probably some who didn’t) about the asteroid.

The first thing I did was try to figure out whether 4942 Munroe was big enough to pose a threat to Earth. I was excited to learn that, based on its albedo (brightness), it’s probably about 6-10 kilometers in diameter. That’s comparable in size to the one that killed the dinosaurs—definitely big enough to cause a mass extinction!

I texted Phil Plait to let him know that 4942 Munroe is four or five times the diameter of 165347 Philplait.

Unfortunately Fortunately, it’s in a fairly stable circular orbit between Mars and Jupiter, so it’s unlikely to hit the Earth any time soon.

4942 Munroe (!!!) is large enough that it would have noticeable gravity, although not much. If you were walking on the surface and you tripped and fell, it’d take you a minute to hit the ground. You could get into orbit around it by traveling at jogging speed, and might even escape its gravity entirely with a good jump.

Thank you so much. This is the coolest thing.

260 thoughts on “Asteroid 4942 Munroe

  1. Pingback: Randall Munroe est un génie | riduidel's wordpress

  2. Pingback: ‘xkcd’ creator Randall Munroe gets asteroid named after him | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment

  3. I just found this XKCD blog, despite reading the comic for ages.
    I feel like I’ve been missing out.


  4. This is such a cool idea, and well deserved! Congratulations!

    … now, is there going to appear an updated Gravity Wells image?


  5. Pingback: Bautizan un asteroide con el nombre de Randall Munroe de XKCD | Misiongeek

  6. Pingback: Deporte24horasBautizan un asteroide con el nombre de Randall Munroe de XKCD » Deporte24horas

  7. What’s your opinion on the comet passing Mars? We have been talking about terraforming Mars for so long, wondering how to get the materials we need… complaining about the light atmosphere. Honestly, I think this might be our only chance to terraform mars… why isn’t Nasa talking about redirecting the comet?
    Also, with all the problems here on earth and nobody fixing them, I’d really like to leave. The fact that the idiots are in charge disturbs me.


  8. Take care of that baby. Some day it will attract a lot of other rocks, become a moon-sized menace that will drop out of solar orbit and head sun-wards. The Federation will send a starship .to intercept this new menace and find out it calls itself ‘Moe’. Then they won’t take it seriously.

    We’re doomed!


  9. Pingback: El asteroide 4942 Munroe (1987 DU6) | El pingüino tolkiano

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  11. Haha that is so sweet! One day this will crash land on another planet and start up life! What would you call that planet if you had the opportunity?


  12. That’s NOTHING!!! ;-D I was born exactly 9 years (to the day) before Lady Gaga, and I know a guy who was born exactly 9 years (to the day) AFTER Lady Gaga!

    And then there’re Reba McEntire (who’s a liiittle older) and Vince Vaughn — also born on March 28.

    Live long and prosper, Randall Munroe.


  13. What’s special about the name “4942 Munroe”?

    Also, I have a couple what if questions:
    What would happen if every living thing on earth suddenly vanished? What if the earth vanished, but everything alive stayed?

    How much power would it take to send a message via laser through the sun?

    What happens at the center of a black hole?


  14. Is there any data on what it looks like? I think it would make an interesting Orbiter add-on to mess with (and hurl at unsuspecting terrestrial planets…)


  15. My electric Flying Soccer will take you all there … and other beautiful places in our Solar System. Let the idiots who are in charge to remain on Earth. But they are stealing Earth’s money and will be the first wanting to ride there.


  16. Congratulations! That sure is awesome! Plus, I’m sure now all members of the IAU read XKCD, and about half of them probably read it before.


  17. Speaking unofficially for all of us surnamed Munroe; Thanks for sharing that!


  18. Pingback: 4942 Munroe – OffWorld

  19. Pingback: WHAT IF:风速 500 英里/小时 | シ最愛遲到.!

  20. I very much like the following quote from the page of the fellow who nominated you:

    “I’m sure Randall will be glad to know that there’s now an asteroid with his name; a honour that very little people get.”

    So, how little are you, Randall? Very little, or just somewhat little? 🙂

    Hadda be asked, sorry.


  21. Ref today’s comic Angular Size and the mouse over text. As well as a magnifying glass, you’d also need to be moving pretty fast — since the rotational speed at the surface of the earth (relative to the sun, or local stars) is something like 1000 mph at the equator.
    Captsha starts with 442…and my gf’s father just sold his original red Oldsmobile 442 yesterday.


  22. For Angular Size, not only would you need a magnifying glass AND moving pretty fast, you’d need to be invisible, otherwise your shadow would blot out much of what you may have been trying to look at.


  23. Re Angular Size, and the mouse over text: No need to paint the Earth – all we need is very clever goggles that know the star map, the angular sizes, and their own location and orientation.
    However, DaveN noted:
    “Ref today’s comic Angular Size and the mouse over text. As well as a magnifying glass, you’d also need to be moving pretty fast — since the rotational speed at the surface of the earth (relative to the sun, or local stars) is something like 1000 mph at the equator.”
    Damn! The images would go by much too fast. But – it would be simple to take a snapshot. And of course one would be able to zoom.


  24. Congratulations on your namesake!

    Also, thanks for removing the typo in the second panel of today’s strip — the unreferenced “Football Field”. Logged on here just to note that, and am glad that I re-checked the strip before posting. Please keep up the fine work — this is, hands-down, the very BEST web-comix!


  25. Pingback: WHAT IF:风速 500 英里/小时 – 木又鸟又鸟

  26. While your comic about angular sizes of celestial objects is presumably correct as far as it goes, it does not take into consideration the effect that the various motions the Earth is subject to would have on the shadows those objects would cast on its surface if they were capable of doing so, and is therefore lacking, in my humble opinion.


  27. Pingback: 【What if 系列】夺命狂风 | 浮生记

  28. Pingback: Weekend link dump for October 13 – Off the Kuff

  29. You DO realize that we didn’t just GIVE you an asteroid… this is a serious responsibility. The last person I can think of who had his own asteroid to play with was some little Prince that didn’t even speak English…
    You can’t just say what a keen thing it is, and then ignore it for weeks at a time.
    YOU are going to have the be the one to make sure it’s on a proper orbital trajectory, that it gets adequate ephemeris and the occasional accretions — not too many of those, you’ll spoil it.
    And if you let it get into one of the neighbor’s Kirkwood gaps, well, YOU are gonna be the one who is in trouble, Mister!
    Now, under the circumstances, I think the best thing you could do is stop trying to get one of those silly Best Fan Artist HUGO awards… Leave SOMETHING for Taral Wayne to win. You have a whole asteroid now to play with.


  30. Congratulations to the asteroid for getting such an awesome and meaningful name.
    Now, what I would like to see would be original size stickers or magnets of the shadows from the angular size comic (obviously starting from the laptop ones… or even the ping pong table ones for the most dedicated of us).
    First step to recreating a model of the mapped celestial sphere, think about it! (;


  31. Congrats!

    So, as a what-if, what’s the easiest way to ensure this causes an extinction event?


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