Wood Gets His Own Asteroid

Not everyone can say they have an asteroid bearing their name, but a Wheeling man has earned that distinction.

Planetary scientist and author Charles “Chuck” Wood said he was surprised to learn Thursday morning that an asteroid has been named in his honor.

An official citation from the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Circulars identifies the heavenly body as “(363115) Chuckwood = 2001 FW224.” According to the official citation, this asteroid was discovered on March 22, 2001 by SKADS at Kitt Peak.

Explaining its reason for making the honor, the International Astronomical Union stated that Wood “made fundamental insights into the role of cratering and volcanism in shaping planetary surfaces. He tirelessly promoted science education through numerous books, popular articles and the Internet. His development of education programs introduced many students to science.”

Wood, a staff member of the Challenger Learning Center at Wheeling Jesuit University, said, “I have just begun to find information about ‘my’ asteroid. It is about three times as far from the Sun as the Earth, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It is part of a family of asteroids that probably resulted from a collision of two larger asteroids about 2.5 billion years ago. Its size is 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) across. It is rich in carbon and probably has ice on its surface.

“There are more than 360,000 known asteroids, but only about 15,000 have been named,” he added.

Wood quipped, “This asteroid is safely in the outer part of the asteroid belt and is unlikely to ever threaten Earth — there won’t be any movie to save Earth from asteroid Chuckwood!”

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Closer to Planet Earth, storyteller Judi Tarowsky of St. Clairsville will give two presentations of her historic narrative, “To Summits of Glory — The West Virginia Flying Corps,” at area libraries this month.

Tarowsky will offer a program for Lunch With Books at the Ohio County Public Library, 52 16th St., Wheeling, at noon Aug. 21. She also will speak at the Brooke County Public Library, 945 Main St., Wellsburg, at 6 p.m. Aug. 22. Both programs are free and open to the public.

The St. Clairsville resident has appeared at many storytelling festivals in recent years. She is slated to perform at the 2018 Southern Ohio Storytelling Festival in Chillicothe in September.

Her narrative, “To Summits of Glory,” recounts the story of Louis Bennett Jr., who is immortalized in the statue of “The Aviator” on the campus of Linsly School in Wheeling. His service in Great Britain’s Royal Air Force also is commemorated, albeit anonymously, in a stained glass window at Westminster Abbey in London.

Bennett, a Yale University student from Weston, established the West Virginia Flying Corps at a riverside location in Beech Bottom in 1917, as the United States was nearing its entry into World War I. Ultimately, however, U.S. military officials rejected Bennett’s proposal, leading him to go to Canada and on to England to join a wartime flying unit.

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Award-winning West Virginia author Ann Pancake will return to West Virginia University this fall as writer-in-residence.

Pancake will teach courses in Appalachian literature, environmental criticism and other subjects related to her writing and research. University officials stated, “She will also contribute to the WVU Humanities Center Community Affiliates program but will devote the bulk of her time to writing about her native state.”

She is slated to deliver a public lecture, “Double Vision,” at WVU’s downtown library in Morgantown on Oct. 22. The lecture is part of the Humanities Center’s “Quality of Life” speakers’ series.

Pancake received an honorary doctorate from WVU in May and delivered the keynote address at the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences commencement. Her 2007 novel, “Strange as this Weather has Been,” won the Weatherford Prize for Appalachian literature.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer.net

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