Cocktail Astronomy | Bird Names on Bennu

Close-up images of the OSIRIS-REx sample site candidates on asteroid Bennu. Image credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona.

Here at Future-ish, we love astronomy and we love cocktails. So to prep our fans (and ourselves) for those stellar weekend cocktail conversations, we are pleased to offer our Cocktail Astronomy post each Friday.

This week we focus our magnifying lense of choice (monocle, binoculars, telescope, etc.) on the fiesty little astroid Bennu. In October 2020, NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission’s Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event succeeded in gathering a sample of the asteroid surface. When the samples do return to Earth, we will learn a tremendous amount about asteroids, our galaxy, and our universe.

But here's a bit of trivia that is sure to win you big points at the weekend cocktail party. Why all the bird names for the features and potential landing sites on Bennu? It all starts with Bennu. In 2012, The University of Arizona, The Planetary Society and the LINEAR Project sponsored a 'name the asteroid' contest and Michael Puzio, a third-grader from North Carolina, had the winning entry. Bennu is reference to the ancient Egyptian diety, Bennu, a heron-like bird that the student felt the OSIRIS-REx craft resembled.

To honor and supplement the bird reference, the key features of Bennu, including the potential landing sights of OSIRIS-Rex, have been named for birds.

Cocktail pairing: The Blue Heron may be listed as a summer cocktail but it is sure to be tasty all year around, whether you are in Egypt or Estonia.
And you can't have post on Bennu's birds without a bit of 1978 "Birdland":