Heavenly Pop Hit: a super fan names the asteroid after the leader of the Chills

Martin Phillipps is the frontman of the iconic band from Dunedin The Chills.


Martin Phillipps is the frontman of the iconic band from Dunedin The Chills.

Asteroid 53109 has a new official name, and it’s a name close to home.

The asteroid was officially named after Martin Phillipps, the lead singer of the iconic band Dunedin. Chills.

“I don’t think I laughed as much as when I got the message… it’s really wonderful actually,” Phillipps said.

The unusual announcement for the singer, who wrote hits like Heavenly pop success and Pink frost, was carried out by Dr. Ian Griffin of the Otago Museum, who discovered the asteroid Cocoa in Florida on January 12, 1999.

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A renowned astronomer, Griffin was also an avid fan of Phillipps’ music. It started in the 80s in the UK, but grew when he moved to Dunedin and saw the band perform live.

Griffin even asked the frontman to perform solo when the Otago Museum Planetarium opened in 2015, where he performed. Crown of dawn from the album Silver bullets

Griffin’s fandom reached its peak when he received confirmation from the International Astronomical Union that the proposed name for the asteroid he had discovered had been accepted.

This meant that asteroid 53109 was now officially known as Martinphilipps.

“Martin Phillipps (b.1963) is the lead vocalist of Dunedin’s rock band The Chills, whose music forms the backbone of the so-called ‘Dunedin sound’,” the notes of the find said.

Griffin said Martinphillipps, which was about 6.432 kilometers in diameter, circled the sun between Mars and Jupiter, and took 4.07 years to complete an orbit.

Phillipps at his home in Tainui, Dunedin.

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Phillipps at his home in Tainui, Dunedin.

Griffin also named another asteroid Stephenvoss in honor of New Zealand-born general practitioner and amateur astronomer and astrophotographer Stephen Voss.

Other asteroids are named after personalities from all over the world, including Giovanni Riccioli (1598-1671), who was one of the first telescopic observers of the Moon, and the Lithuanian poet Vincas Kudirka (1858-1899).

Minor planet number 8749 was also known as The Beatles, while minor planet number 23990 was named after Bruce Springsteen and was also named by Griffin.

“I’m definitely in pretty good company,” Phillipps said.

Phillipps was not much of an astronomer, but was certainly a great thinker and had asked Griffin if naming rights entitled him to mineral rights to the asteroid.

“The flip side was that if it hits the ground, I am legally responsible,” he said.

He was hoping to see images of his namesake.

The new Frissons album, Stunned, was released in May, and the group planned to tour the United States next year.

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