If you’ve ever wanted a planetary body named after yourself, now is the best time to do something amazing for the world, since naming things is something the IAU is using to get people interested in space again. And even when there isn’t a vote involved, there is still something magical about the naming of a star or planet. A group of 49 minor planets were recently given proper names, and the two most recognizable names in the bunch belonged to author Thomas Pynchon and legendary cartoonist Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin & Hobbes, arguably the greatest comic strip to ever blow everyone’s minds.
The Minor Planet Circular‘s latest edition lists all of the newly named minor planets, as well as another 500 pages’ worth of numbers and letters that my poor brain couldn’t comprehend. It’s been a long process for many of these objects to get named, so it’s worth a celebration. Assuming giant rocks know how to celebrate properly.
Pynchon, born in 1937, has been writing massive critically acclaimed novels since 1963’s V., with this year’s detective story Bleeding Edge as his most recent. Often considered postmodern, Pynchon writes novels for people interested in the written word and its power on the page. He is as meticulous with his words as he is with avoiding all press and public appearances. While 1973’s dense, multi-genre work Gravity’s Rainbow is the one most often remembered by hardcore fans, new readers might wander into the shaggy dog mystery Inherent Vice a little easier, especially since Paul Thomas Anderson has turned it into a movie due out next year. Not that Anderson’s movies are any easier to follow. You can try following his celestial body, which was discovered in 2005 by E. Guido, but you won’t have much luck there, either.
Watterson, whose rock was discovered in 1994 by T.B. Spahr, was born in 1958 and avoids publicity even more so than Pynchon. He wrote and illustrated Calvin & Hobbes from 1985-1995, ultimately ending the strip on his own accord, much to the dismay of millions around the world who had become enamored with the imaginative young boy and his stuffed tiger. (And all the snowmen!)
While these two elusive talents are ripe for eternal remembrance, they’re by no means the most important people getting celebrated. There are astronomers, engineers, astronauts, professors, and writers. There are also a couple of minor planets named for cities, as well as the Duende, a race of fairies and goblins from Irish folklore. Also, several of the firefighters who died in the flames in Yarnell, AZ earlier this year were given the honor.
You can see all the names here. And while you’re at it, check out the trailer for the upcoming Calvin & Hobbes documentary below.