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April 3, 1997

Asteroid named for Cassidy

On behalf of the International Astronomical Union, Harvard's Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science has named an asteroid after Pitt professor of geology and planetary science William Cassidy.

Discovered on Sept. 7, 1948, by Henry L. Giclas at the Lowell Observatory, the asteroid was named in honor of Cassidy following a suggestion by Bruce Hapke, another Pitt professor of geology and planetary science, and Truman Kohman, professor emeritus of chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University.

Cassidy was honored for his pioneering work with meteorites and meteorite craters. At Campo del Cielo in Argentina, he documented one of the first known occurrences of multiple impact craters associated with meteorite masses. For 15 years, Cassidy also led meteorite recovery teams in Antarctica. He was responsible for the acquisition of several thousand meteorites in Antarctica, including lunar and Martian specimens.

Cassidy is a rocky asteroid of six to nine miles in diameter with an orbit between Mars and Jupiter. It takes 3.36 Earth years to circle the sun and usually can only be seen through a powerful telescope.

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