Asteroid named for students who discovered it


Welcome to Madisonville, Texas -- land area of four square miles, population 4,000 people. But a high school class has put Madisonville not just on the map, but beyond the map.

Senior Kaitlynn Ogg said, "Small town Madisonville found a big discovery out in the ginormous universe."

Back in 2008, nine eighth graders here identified a new asteroid in between Mars and Jupiter. The kids are now seniors and the Smithsonian's minor planet center is now tracking the asteroid. They just named it "Madisonvillehigh."

Astronomy teacher Denise Rothrock said, "If you can get middle school kids to come before school starts and really be excited about a program, then you know it's something that was worthwhile."

The students identified the asteroid by going through thousands of pictures each taken 15 minutes apart. Looped together, you can see objects hurtling through space.

But name recognition is just the beginning for these students. They still search for asteroids in class.and many plan on pursuing physics and astronomy.

"I want, in the end, to be the head engineer of a satellite that goes into space," said senior Libby Schmitt.

Their advice to others?

"Get involved, do anything you can, take all the opportunities you can. Just do anything."

"Don't let people tell you that you can't do anything just because you're from a small town."

Copyright © 2024 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.