3834 Zappafrank

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3834 Zappafrank
Discovered by Ladislav Brožek
Discovery site Kleť Observatory
Discovery date 11 May 1980 May
MPC designation 1980 JE
Named after
Frank Zappa
Minor planet category main belt
Orbital characteristics[1]
Aphelion 455.3 Gm
Perihelion 309.1 Gm
4.08 years
Inclination 10.4∘

3834 Zappafrank is a main belt asteroid that was discovered by Ladislav Brožek in 1980 at Kleť Observatory. It was named after the late American composer Frank Zappa on July 22, 1994.

Naming campaign[edit]

John V. Scialli, M.D., a forensic psychiatrist in Phoenix, Arizona, USA headed the successful Internet campaign to name the asteroid, which apparently was the first worldwide on-line petition. It involved Zappa fans in 22 countries and produced the most people supporting an asteroid's name, according to the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Having unsuccessfully tried to get one of the planets orbiting the pulsar in the constellation Virgo named after Zappa, Scialli was lucky enough in early 1994 to find an enthusiastic supporter in the person of Dr. Brian G. Marsden at the Minor Planet Center near Boston, Massachusetts, who was involved in the IAU Committee for naming celestial objects. Dr. Marsden admitted that the idea of naming an object after Zappa had crossed his mind at the time of the musician's death the previous December, suggested that an alternative request to name an asteroid might meet with the IAU's approval, and offered to steer it through the committee.

Scialli's favorite choices of name proved, for a variety of reasons, to be unsuitable:[dubious ] 2813 Zappalà had already been named after the astronomer Vincenzo Zappalà, and there were quite a few beginning with 'Frank': namely 982 Franklina and 1925 Franklin-Adams (both named for John Franklin-Adams, British amateur astronomer); 2824 Franke (named for Ersnt H. Franke, American biophysicist); and 2845 Franklinken (named for Kenneth Linn Franklin, American astronomer). Subsequently, 4546 Franck (named for César Franck, Belgian composer) and 9662 Frankhubbard (named for American harpsichord maker Frank Hubbard) have appeared, but on this occasion the name Zappafrank was settled on, by which it was from then on referred by astronomers all over the world. The IAU Committee felt that No. 3834 was an ideal choice, having been discovered by a Czech astronomer, since Zappa had been an icon of freedom to the people of that country in the period prior to 1989.[2] President Václav Havel—a fan of Zappa whom the musician had met—although not able to endorse the request in an official capacity, evidently approved, and Dr. Marsden claimed that he had never experienced such intense lobbying: the press reported thousands of letters of support were sent to him before the committee met.

3834 Zappafrank is mentioned in a picture (a fictional star map) in the booklet of the One Size Fits All 1995 CD version. This had been added by artist Cal Schenkel at the request of Zappa's widow, Gail Zappa.


  1. ^ a b Details of (3834) Zappafrank
  2. ^ Kleť Observatory: (3834) Zappafrank