I talk about things I find interesting. I find a lot of things interesting…

Symbol for an asteroid‽

by Ken Arnold on Mon 25 February 2013

In 1973, my father had an asteroid named after him: 2143 jimarnold. I mean for real, not in one of those pay-to-get-entered shyster catalogs.

We recently came across the wikipedia page on astronomical symbols, and noticed that about two dozen asteroids have their own symbols. And we thought, well, why not 2143 jimarnold?

It turns out that using symbols for asteroids was abandoned in the 1850’s, so there are no symbols for asteroids (more correctly known as minor planets) in the official catalog. Even then there were starting to be too many asteroids for people to track individual symbols. And by now there are over 200,000 known asteroids.

There are two ways to take this news. One is to decide that, because there is no official body for symbols, that’s that, no symbol.

The other is to decide, hey, because there’s no official body for symbols, there is nobody to tell us we’re wrong!

So the family of Dr. James R. Arnold has decided that the appropriate symbol for 2143 jimarnold is


This is the interrobang, a punctuation mark that combines a question mark and an exclamation point. It represents Jim Arnold’s combination of an intense, wide-ranging curiosity (question mark) and his interest in the answers uncovered and insistence upon working with the resulting reality (exclamation mark). As in “Why …?” followed by “Wow! …” followed by “If so, then why …?” followed by, well, you get the idea.

If you want to use this symbol in all your writings about 2143 jimarnold, you are fortunate: The interrobang is actually present in many major fonts‽ It is in Unicode as U+203D, and therefore is available in HTML as ‽ And for those who write in Spanish, there is even ⸘an inverted interrobang‽

So that’s all settled. 2143 jimarnold (‽). Look for it everywhere.

One thought on “Symbol for an asteroid‽

  1. Pingback: 3D Printed Space Missions | EclectifyingEclectifying

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