Why Viswanathan Anand got the honour of naming a planet in his name that too 15 years after its discovery?
There’s more to his chess glory as he is also an astronomy enthusiast and above all a gentleman for the staff at the Minor Planet Center.
Though a minor planet, 4538 is located in between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter where the Ceres asteroid probe is currently going on by the Dawn sapcecraft of NASA. It was one among the 650,000 such minor space bodies in the cluster and very difficult to locate.
With this honour, Anand joins the sports celebrities such as Roger Federer, Jesse Owens, Arsene Wenger, Anatoly Karpov, Alexander Alekhine and Donald Bradman after whom planets have been named.
The planet 4538, now named 4538 Vishyanand was originally discovered by Kenzo Suzuki of Japan on October 10, 1988. Though the discoverer retains the privilege of naming it for 10 years, he did not exercise his right and the planet remained unnamed passing on to the center.
The Center located at Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), works under the International Astronomical Union and gets its operating budget from a five-year NASA grant. It is bestowed with the task of naming minor astronomical bodies in the solar system, including minor planets, comets and natural satellites.
Naming these minor planets is the responsibility of the Minor Planet Center and its staffer Michael Rudenko, a chess buff himself, was asked to name the object. Rudenko told Chessbase, an online chess portal: “My two passions in life are astronomy and chess. I thought it might be appropriate to name a minor planet in honour of a chess grandmaster. My thoughts at once turned to Viswanathan Anand who, in addition to being the 15th world chess champion, is also an astronomy buff.”
Besides being a great chess player, he is also an astronomy enthusiast, said Rubenko about Anand. Otherwise, Anand is the third chess player after Alexander Alekhine and Anatoly Karpov, both Russians, who have minor planets named after him.