Lowell Observatory’s Putnam Wants to Name Asteroid for Trayvon Martin

Eric Betz, AZ Daily Sun, September 5, 2013

Albert Einstein. George Takei. Jerry Garcia.

All of those men and many others have had an asteroid named after them. And if William Lowell Putnam III, trustee of Lowell Observatory, has his way, another name will be added to that list: Trayvon Martin.

The retired broadcast executive, alpinist, author and Flagstaff resident believes that Martin has not received justice.

It was an unusually warm night at Anderson Mesa south of Flagstaff on Oct. 2, 2000, when Lowell Observatory astronomers found the asteroid 2000 TM61. It was just one of hundreds that observatory’s researchers discovered as part of their search for Near Earth Asteroids.

The minor planet was placed into a catalog and forgotten until shortly after Martin, 17, was fatally shot in Sanford, Fla. The unarmed teen’s death sparked nationwide protests and renewed the race debate in America.

It also sparked disgust with Putnam.

“As I see it, the social fairness showed to Trayvon Martin was very sadly lacking,” he said. “Inasmuch as I am the sole trustee of an institution which has some naming privileges, I want to do my share to see that this lad is remembered in an appropriate manner.”

Following George Zimmerman’s murder indictment, Putnam had astronomer Edward Bowell, a near-Earth asteroid and comet expert, submit the suggested name.

The citation for asteroid 2000 TM61 reads:

“Named in memory of Trayvon Martin (1995-2012), a student at Dr. Michael M. Krop High School in Miami, Florida. Unarmed, he was fatally shot in Sanford, Florida, during an altercation with the neighborhood watch coordinator.”


It was rejected by the Minor Planet Center, which together with the International Astronomical Union, decides what to name astronomical bodies. The agency said the name was “premature,” but didn’t elaborate on a cause.


But now Putnam is renewing his effort in light of the jury’s acquittal earlier this summer. His hope is that the agency will no longer see his request as premature.


But the Lowell family has a legacy of combating social injustices against African Americans. The family came from great wealth in New England, which Putnam’s Uncle, Percival Lowell, used to found the observatory in Flagstaff. The founder’s trust still helps carry the institution to this day.

And after Percival died, his younger brother, A. Lawrence Lowell, sought to help continue that astronomy legacy in Flagstaff by paying for the Pluto dome, which would be used to find the former planet that carried Percival’s initials.

As president of Harvard University, Lawrence argued that black and white students deserved the same access to an education. But he drew controversy with his decision not to force integration in freshman dorms. Lawrence is known as the creator of the modern system of majors in college and reformed Harvard to accept people of all classes, despite his own high-societal standing.

Putnam remembers spending summers at his great uncle’s home on Cape Cod, where education was a frequent topic of discussion.

He says that after his parents received an unexpected trust from Lawrence, they set out to find a way to use the funds to honor the man. His mother Caroline established a scholarship for black Roman Catholic students.

She hired a secretary and traveled across the United States and abroad to lobby Roman Catholics to help send black Americans to college. Her efforts were a huge success. By the 1950s, the scholarship was dishing out $100,000 every year.


Among those who received a scholarship was Charlie Rangel, who used it to pay for law school. The New York congressman is now the third-longest serving member of the House of Representatives. Rangel has been among those who have called for the Department of Justice to investigate if civil rights laws have been violated in the Martin case.

Putnam believes his family would be proud of the effort to name an asteroid Trayvon.

“I’ve got the privilege of getting this named for him. I think it’s my job. It’s my duty and my parents would be grateful,” he said.


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  • Asteroid Trayvon will be what we fear, the big rock that slams into Earth and causes another K-Pg extinction event. Trayvons do wreck a lot.

    • NeanderthalDNA

      Dammit! You beat me too it.

      • Yeah, I can see the Deep Impact mission to stop Asteroid Trayvon if it ever is on an Earth trajectory: Mission code named Zimmerman.

        • NorthSea

          Or Skittles

        • NeanderthalDNA

          Let’s wait until we’re sure it will hit us and then name it Trayvonnnn…

          • Or better yet, we should name one of those very long period comets after Trayvon. We’ll see Trayvon today, then not again for another seven million years.

          • NeanderthalDNA

            When it breaks up in the atmosphere into hundreds of Tunguska-like airbursts we can call those “skittles”.

        • Bon, From the Land of Babble

          It would be entirely appropriate for Al Sharpton to lead a holy crusade to the asteroid to claim it and christen it for Sir Skittles.

          The only real problem is finding a helmet…maybe we should tell him he doesn’t need a helmet…


    • 48224

      They should name a black hole after him. Name a star after Zimmerman.

  • APaige

    The official photograph will show a cute, little rock.

    • Oil Can Harry

      A photo of a cute rock when it was only 12 (million) years old.

      All the Trayvon Martin supporters out there can kiss my asteroid.

  • MekongDelta69

    Didn’t I just nominate the Shooting Breaks Out at Anti-Violence article for the AmRen laugh of the week article award?

    Can I change my vote?

    • CharlesFinley

      Astergroid! Outstanding!!!

    • NorthSea

      Appropriate title for another waste of elements occupying space.

  • [Guest]

    I hereby suggest that we similarly name the contents of our toilet bowls before flushing.

  • Truthseeker

    Oh, Trayvon Martin. Lived a useless life of thuggery and then lost it when he attempted to kill a man who was trying to protect his neighborhood. In death, he’s become an icon that a signification portion of the population feels the need to honor and memorialize. He’s made lots of people money and affected many lives, and all he had to do was become a victim of his own stupidity and criminal tendencies. What a joke. If you’d told this kid when he was alive that one day he’d be a household name, he probably never would’ve guessed it.


      Whaaaaaat? Judging by the way the media handles EVERY other case where a young black thug in his teens is killed while in the act of assaulting or potentially killing someone. I’m gonna say that of course he knew he was headed for fame, he was clearly an aspiring rapper, not to mention he was in the process of turning his life around. And lets not forget that at some point his Aunti even screamed through all 6 of her remaining teeth that “Trayvon was a gooit boy” and that “he dint do nuffins”, right? So yea he knew he’d be famous. AwwwwwwwGeeeeyaBoyyyyyy!

    • Lagerstrom

      Maybe if ‘Icey -T’ gets wasted one day, they’ll name an asteroid ‘Ice Muthaf***in’ -T Baytch’ after him. From what I’ve just read here, I wouldn’t be surprised!

    • NorthSea

      But, he did manage to have a huge chunk of detritus named in his honor.

  • William Lowell Putnam III actually has his own Wikipedia entry, and he does have quite a résumé over his 89 years.
    What’s his real angle?
    Seeking funding?
    Making a joke about an asteroid that is as destructive as the late St. Trayvon?

    • sbuffalonative

      Where have you been? Don’t you know about the greatest director of the NYC Hayden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson?

    • Xerxes22

      William Lowell Putnam III sounds like your typical upper class twit. Someone born with a siver spoon and no connection with the real world. He reminds me of the fictional Thurston Howell III from Gilligan’s Island. Putnam is probably a bit senile and he also wants something to brag about at the next cocktail party or fund raiser.

    • My suspicion is that he’s had his head cracked against the ground a little bit too hard.

  • TheCogitator

    How long is the contest to see who can suggest the stupidest thing paying homage to Trayvon Martin going to continue? He was nothing more that a young negro thug who got what he had coming to him. Had not Zimmerman shot him, someone else would have, or the state would have had to execute him. If they are so determined to name something as a tribute to a black, at least let it be a decent black, and admit they are doing it to curry favor with blacks and to wash away their perceived sin of being white.

    • Jack Burton

      I classify it as a post-birth abortion, liberals are all for that aren’t they.

  • Jim Henry

    I have a suggestion. Name the asteroid Nicole Brown Simpson. It would represent all women who were battered, abused and murdered.

  • Evette Coutier

    They should name one after Martin. Call it “dead groid asteroid.”

    • MekongDelta69

      Allow me to save you a few keystrokes if I might.

      How about, “Dead Astergroid“?

      That ok?!

      • Evette Coutier

        Much improved.

  • DailyKenn

    Why would they want to name an asteroid “Street Thug”?

  • Spartacus

    How about naming one after my s**t ? It makes just as much sense…

  • CharlesFinley

    I pushed through an Obama after my breakfast and coffee,

    and it really aggravated my Trayvon Martins.

  • No_limit_negro is a funny name for an asteroid.

  • disqus_Xz3UA6obwj

    Asteroids generally crash and burn. I think it is appropriate to name one after that loser.

  • Spartacus

    While you’re at it, name one after this donkey too, makes just as much sense.

    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      Naming a sewer, septic tank or landfill after him would be more appropriate

      • Spartacus

        I must object to that, I’m afraid. All those things you mention have actual purposes in life, and they’re useful to people. Not the same can be said about saint Skittles.

        • IstvanIN

          Septic systems protect us from disease and keep our living areas nice. Blacks, not so much.

        • NorthSea

          Sorry, I didn’t read your post first.

      • NorthSea

        To be fair, sewers, septic tanks, and landfills serve a useful purpose. So the comparison is unfair. To the above items, I mean.

    • IstvanIN

      Name it after the ass who overloaded the poor donkey.

      • NorthSea

        There’s an ass on each end of the cart.

    • Lagerstrom

      They really do need our help after all, let’s let more of them in. You really are a compassionate fellow after all S!

  • amourpropre

    Ah, yes, the Lowell family. Yakeedom doesn’t get any deeper than this, folks.

    • NorthSea

      Is this the result of that upper-class inbreeding I’ve read about?

  • MikeofAges

    Trayvon Martin was a delinquent who got involved in some unlikely events, which cost him his life. You have to concede that he did not initiate the contact between himself and George Zimmerman. But ultimately he attacked and then threatened to kill Zimmerman. How does that rate an asteroid? More likely, it rates a frank discussion of the conditions of life for youth today. Especially those who don’t fall into the “talented tenth”, the “top quintile” or even the upper half. It is also calls for a frank discussion of the social pathologies endemic to black youth.

  • IstvanIN

    Mr. Lowell proves that one can be educated and not have horse sense.

  • willbest

    Isn’t that the line from Armageddon where the amateur observer who discovered the asteroid wanted it named after his wife because it was a soul crushing rock designed to destroy all life on the planet.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Trayvon Martin Asteroid: A dark, worthless rock named after a dark, worthless thug.

    Well, Trayvon and the asteroid have the same IQ so it’s approrpiate.

    “As I see it, the social fairness showed to Trayvon Martin was very sadly lacking.”

    –William Lowell Putnam III

    Looks like a Purple Drank Addict.


    • Jack Burton

      Looks like your typical emasculated, effeminate, doughy liberal that couldn’t defend themselves or their family if their life depended on it. Not only that, but they are against Whites who will defend themselves. Real scum of the earth. I spit on their graves.

  • exlib93

    I already dubbed a brown inanimate object Trayvon….and it’s not an asteroid.

  • JDInSanD

    “in light of the jury’s acquittal”??? Shouldn’t the asteroid be named after Zimmerman in light of the jury’s acquittal.

  • MikeofAges

    Martin’s attack as such was gratuitous. I nevertheless think Zimmerman’s behavior was strange, and particularly his communication skills were poor. What happened, however, is known down to the dot. The media doesn’t have to treat it like it’s a big mystery.

    There was not an “altercation” for which there is no proven explanation for how it started. Martin attacked Zimmerman. Zimmerman was quite patient with his assailant, really. He could not grapple with him because of the gun he was carrying. So he let the guy beat on him hoping the cops would get there in time. Only when Martin threatened his life and acted to carry out that threat did Zimmerman use his weapon.

    • A Freespeechzone

      Moreover, instead of emptying his magazine into trayvon martin–he shot once.

      I’d say that George Zimmerman exhibited a high level of restraint and self control; a less controlled person might have emptied their gun into martin.

      No Apologies.

  • A Freespeechzone

    So..fairness to this PC, self-loathing liberal would have been Trayvon Martin either severely maiming or possibly killing George Zimmerman?

    I have repeated this time and time again—Trayvon Martin got exactly what he deserved–to be shot in self-defense to stop an UNPROVOKED attack.

    I wouldn’t name a turd for Trayvon Martin.

    • Jack Burton

      Yankee scum like Putnam are mentally ill and are racial dead weight. You could say that he just needs to experience some personal diversity of his own, but the mental disorder is so deep-seated he would blame himself or White society for any transgressions against him. Whites like him are beyond help.

  • Lagerstrom

    Who are they again?

  • blight14

    For those who want to share their opinion with the observatory here is
    their contact info: Outreach manager Kevin Schindler phone #
    928-233-3210 ; email [email protected]

  • Elena Andbasket

    Fair enough, if we can call our asteroid interception system ‘Zimmerman’.

  • plaintruthforidiots

    It’s “name AFTER”, not “name FOR”… Why are Americans so confused by prepositions?

    “IN the death of” should be “FOR the death of”. It isn’t rocket science.

  • WASP

    Heavens! Like there aren’t enough Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevards all over America; now this deluded liberal, Putnam, wants to name an asteroid after St. Trayvon Martin? Will we ever see anything named in memory of Christopher Lane, the young Australian, senselessly murdered by Blacks?

  • OhWow

    How ironic would it be if Asteroid Trayvon fell to earth and bashed Zimmerman’s head into a concrete sidewalk again? Then we would hear from the parent asteroid that Trayvon was a good little asteroid and he ain’t been did nuffinz.

  • Spartacus

    They’ll never do it. Their jewish masters would never allow it…

  • CoweringCoward

    Same vein as hurricane “Katrina” huh? Should just name that whole class of objects “Trayvons” if you think about it.

  • negrolocaust

    This is an affront to the field of astronomy. By the way; if anybody wants to watch Death Wish to cheer you up, it is free on tubeplus dot com. also, stop by Bernard Goetz’ website it is called vigilante electronics dot com. cheers!

  • cablegirls

    And I’d bet Putnam wrote and distributed his own press release trumpeting the deed.

    “It also sparked disgust with Putnam.” I’ll say.

  • Jenkem Huffington

    We can start calling them “asteroids” now. For example “we had better get out of this county fair, looks like there’s a lot of asteroids showing up”.

  • TheAntidote

    Perhaps the observatory has spotted and is direct communication with “the mothership” described by Elijah Muhammad and Farrakhan.

  • The hoodie isn’t as bloody as I expected.

  • Jack Burton

    I Googled William Lowell Putnam III and when you look at the images you see pictures of Trayvon Martin flipping the viewer off. A real loss to society for sure.

    “As I see it, the social fairness showed to Trayvon Martin was very sadly lacking…”

    What is this moron talking about?? Social fairness is irrelevant, but in that respect he has it backwards, the media machine was totally on his side, unfairly so. Putnam is a PoS and a liar. He’s just another example of decadent Yankees who are responsible, even more than Jews, for turning America and the West into what it has become.

  • Jack Burton

    He’s some affluent asshole that inherited his wealth and status and feels guilty so he panders to minorities and is a passive-aggressive saboteur to other Whites.

  • Jack Burton

    Those nigteroids are the worst, they fly by making excessive noise and littering debris everywhere, they’re nothing but trouble.

  • A Freespeechzone

    Typical White guilt by liberals who don’t associate with black criminals; however, maybe this is appropriate:
    Trayvon was as dumb as a rock and in the end, was destroyed by his own actions, just like the eventual end for this ‘assstoroid’.

    No Apologies.

  • Make that a “dim, dangerous, aimlessly drifting object”, and you could always email [email protected] and ask. Just as a broken clock is right twice a day, even the libtards occasionally get one right.

  • Stentorian_Commentator

    You know what’s really daft about this? Probably the original William Lowell Putnam was a young Harvard student or graduate mortally wounded at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in 1861. Some of the others in his regiment escaped the rout by marching up banks of the Potomac until they came across a slave. They captured him briefly and he led them to a boat they could use to cross the Potomac. One of the officers then paid him with a $10 gold coin and they sent him on his way. No abolitionists among that group, a far more sensible bunch. It looks like the Putnams are bleeped in the head for a long time when it comes to blacks.