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Clapton ... The Planet

A minor planet was named in Eric Clapton’s honor in 1990. Minor Planet 4305 is known as “Clapton.” The citation announcing the name appeared in the Minor Planet Circular Number 16249 dated 10 April 1990.

Minor Planet 4305 / Clapton was discovered by astronomers at the George R. Agassiz Station of the Astronomical Observatory at Harvard, Massachusetts on 7 March 1976. The observatory is affiliated with Harvard University. At that time, it was given the provisional designation of 1976EC.

A minor planet is another name for asteroid. Countless minor planets circle the sun in orbits between Mars and Jupiter. Astronomers believe asteroids are leftover debris from the formation of the solar system. They range in size from 960 kilometers (600 miles) to less than 1.6 kilometers (less than one mile) in diameter. Only about 30 asteroids have diameters greater than 192 kilometers (120 miles). Minor planets are spherical in shape, but some are oblong. Generally, they are made up of rock or a mixture of rock and metal.

The International Astronomical Union knows little about Planet Clapton’s physical properties. They guess its diameter is somewhere between 10 to 24 kilometers (6 to 15 miles) across. Like all minor planets, Clapton is incapable of supporting life as it has no atmosphere and is a cold and inhospitable place.

Planet Clapton’s orbit is located between that of Mars and Jupiter in an area of space known as the Asteroid Belt. It is in a 5-year elliptical orbit around the Sun. The closest it gets to the Sun is 405 million kilometers (253 million miles). In contrast, the Earth’s orbit around the Sun takes only 365 days and its distance from the sun is 149 million kilometers (93 million miles). Planet Clapton’s orbit is inclined at about two degrees to the ecliptic plane (the plane of the Earth’s orbit and the Sun).

Eric Clapton is not the only rock musician who has had a planet named after him. The International Astronomical Union at Harvard University has honored several others. They include John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Buddy Holly and Jerry Garcia.