Astronomer Ray Pickard has been honoured for his work in community education after the International Astronomical Union named an asteroid after him.
In what is a huge mark of respect for a man who has dedicated the last 20 years to educating the community about the world of astronomy, Mr Pickard said he is feeling both humbled and thankful by the news.
"This is the highest honour I can think of and I had absolutely no idea I had been nominated," he said.
"I had actually sought to get one named for the late astronomer Dave Gheesling. However, I feel so privileged knowing there as official asteroid about 5.4km in size that shall carry my name as well."
Mr Pickard said he had absolutely no idea it was going to happen.
"There was an educator in the US that passed away (Dave Gheesling) and he was very much into meteorites and asteroids and things like that and I thought it would be really nice and a great honour to have an asteroid named after him because he had passed away.
"So I approached the International Astronomical Union which is the body that names things within the solar system and put his name forward."
But unknown to Mr Pickard they also thought his work needed recognition as well, and announced both Mr Gheesling and himself as people worthy of the honour.
"I was wow, that's a huge shock," he said.
The asteroid was named after him in recognition of his work with meteorites, asteroids and education in the astronomy world.
In addition to working as a school teacher in Orange, Mr Pickard manages the Bathurst observatory outside school hours and its public education programs.
"I was definitely not expecting to have something named after me or recognised within solar system."
He said consideration for naming goes before bodies like NASA and observatories around the world have to agree to any proposals.
"Objects in the solar system have to be named by an international body so to have one named after me is really quite a humbling honour.
"I just feel like I'm a nerd that lives out in Australia, who did not expect I would be recognised in my lifetime," he said.
He said the asteroid is currently in the constellation of Leo, about 5.5km in diameter and orbits the sun between Mars and Jupiter.
"It still looks like a star light point, but I am hoping to capture an image and when I get the certificate about it being named after me I'll print out an image next to it and keep it in the museum," he said.
Mr Pickard said he has had a love of astronomy since he was a child, and it was his always goal to build an observatory for the public.
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