4897 Tomhamilton

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4897 Tomhamilton (provisional designation: 1987 QD6) is a Main Belt minor planet. It was discovered by Eleanor F. Helin at the Palomar Observatory on August 22, 1987. Research shows that it was previously recorded on photographs taken as early as 1950, and was even logged as 1971QV1. It is named after Thomas Wm. Hamilton, an American (born San Francisco, 1939) who was a child actor (he played Barnaby in Barnaby and Mr. O'Malley and was on the early television show Mr. I-Magination). As an adult he worked on the Apollo program, determining fuel requirements and radar accuracy requirements for lunar orbit rendezvous. He later worked as an astronomy educator and planetarium director, and is the author of a time travel adventure novel, Time for Patriots (ISBN 978-1-60693-224-7), an anthology of fantasy, science fiction and satire The Mountain of Long Eyes, and five books on astronomical topics: Useful Star Names (ISBN 978-1-61204-614-3), Our Neighbor Stars (ISBN 978-1-61897-132-6), Moons of the Solar System (ISBN 978-1-62516-175-8), Dwarf Planets and Asteroids (ISBN 978-1-62857-728-0), and Impact Craters of Earth (ISBN 978-1-63135-353-6). Hamilton and Helin were acquainted, as he had interviewed her at an astronomical conference for a cable television show he was producing at the time.

Orbital details[edit]

This asteroid was last at opposition on January 11, 2011 (coinciding with Hamilton's 72nd birthday) at a distance of 2.476 astronomical units. Given the moderately elliptical orbit, this asteroid can on rare occasions reach an apparent magnitude from Earth of about +10.9. Size, shape, density, and rotational period are not yet known. A diameter of 30 to 35 miles (roughly 50 kilometers) is reasonable based on magnitude and a likely albedo.

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