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Deadwood receives 'stellar' honor with asteroid naming

Deadwood receives 'stellar' honor with asteroid naming

Ronald Dyvig

Ronald Dyvig, left, the discoverer of asteroid "Deadwood" holds a proclamation in his honor Tuesday during a Deadwood City Commission meeting.

A Deadwood High School alumnus has taken the city he loves to astronomical levels, after naming a recently- discovered asteroid "Deadwood."

Ronald Dyvig's family moved to Deadwood in 1944, when he was just a 1-year-old. He is a 1961 graduate of Deadwood High School and went on to study physical sciences at both South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and Black Hills State College.

Dyvig was a teacher for several years in the Rapid City Area School District, and always had a love for astronomy. He received additional training in the field of astronomy at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Dyvig is the owner of Badlands Observatory near Quinn in collaboration with the Minor Planet Center, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the International Astronomical Union and NASA.

During Tuesday's Deadwood City Commission meeting, Dyvig said he has been credited with finding 25 objects in space, including the asteroid, now known as "Deadwood."

On January 25, 2001, Dyvig discovered Asteroid 123794. The nearly two-mile diameter rock is in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, some 332 million miles from Earth.

"So, there is no chance that 'Deadwood' will ever hit us, thankfully," Dyvig jokingly said Tuesday at the City Commission meeting.

He sent his discovery to the Minor Planet Center and received confirmation that Asteroid 123794 was in fact a unique structure, not one that had been identified before. The International Astronomical Union granted Dyvig the rights to name the asteroid.

"I was at a class reunion and me and a bunch of classmates were sitting at the Franklin Hotel, and we were talking about the asteroid," Dyvig said at the City Commission meeting. "I hadn't yet received confirmation that I was going to get to name it, so we all thought it was a good idea to name it after our town."

Once the IAU accepted the name "Deadwood," on May 14, Dyvig said he was elated. He notified Deadwood officials about the honor.

At Tuesday's Deadwood City Commission meeting, Gary Todd, commission president, read a proclamation naming July 6, 2021 "Asteroid (123794) Deadwood Day."

Dyvig also presented the city with a special plaque from the Badlands Observatory honoring the occasion and the naming of a heavenly body after his beloved town.

Asteroid "Deadwood" has an orbital period of 4.38 years around the sun.

Contact Nathan Thompson at

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