IAIN Banks will orbit the Sun for ever – following the decision to name an asteroid after the celebrated Scots author.
The four-mile wide rock – originally called Asteroid 5099 – is hurtling through the deep space between Mars and Jupiter.
From now on it will be known as Iain Banks in a hugely appropriate tribute to the writer, who was as well known for his science fiction as his literary works.
Banks, who lived in North Queensferry, Fife, died last month of cancer aged 59.
It has now emerged that before his death a friend made a request for an asteroid to be named after him.
Jose Luis Galache, of the Minor Planet Centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, made the request to the International Astronomical Union (IAU), which is responsible for naming asteroids and other objects in space.
The decision to rename Asteroid 5099 as Iain Banks was taken on June 23, exactly two weeks after his death.
Writing in the Minor planet Centre’s blog, Dr Galache said: “When I heard of his sickness I immediately asked myself what I could do for Mr Banks, and the answer was obvious: Give him an asteroid!
“We submitted a request to name an asteroid after Iain Banks with the hope that it would be approved soon enough for Mr Banks to enjoy it. Sadly, that has not been possible.”
The citation for the asteroid reads: “Iain M. Banks (1954-2013) was a Scottish writer best known for the Culture series of science fiction novels; he also wrote fiction as Iain Banks.
“An evangelical atheist and lover of whisky, he scorned social media and enjoyed writing music. He was an extra in Monty Python & The Holy Grail.”
Iain Banks – the asteroid – was discovered in February 1985 by astronomers working at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. It is located in the solar system’s Asteroid Belt, and is 3.8 miles long.
The IAU’s decision means Iain Banks will orbit the Sun every 3.94 years.
The author wrote his hugely popular science fiction under the name of Iain M Banks.
His science fiction books feature an advanced civilisation known as ‘The Culture’ that is capable of hollowing out asteroids and transforming them into spacecraft.