Astronomical Research
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Naming Citation:   CLOSE = (54902) = 2001 OG77
Close Minor White and Myke Collins discovered this asteroid on July 23, 2001.  It was linked to sightings from three prior oppositions, and was numbered during its bright 2003 approach.

Gary Close spent his career at the Science Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke.  He taught astronomy and conducted planetarium shows, and was eventually named Director of the Hopkins Planetarium.  He combined his passion for astronomy with hiking, serving as an officer of the Appalachian Trail Club.  His collection of telescopes and star charts are still used today by the Roanoke Valley Astronomical Society.  The MegaDome 70-mm Theater inside the Hopkins Planetarium is his brainchild and his legacy.  This project was funded in part by his estate.

The official citation reads:
  "Gary Close (1940-1999) was born in Fairmont, WV, U.S.A.  Gary worked with the Science Museum of Western VA for 18 years lastly as the Director of Hopkins Planetarium.  He loved teaching school groups about astronomy and managed the Planetarium's Sky Watch program.  As an avid hiker, he would lead night hikes to take groups stargazing."  

"My spirit roams the stars", Gary once said. Now, his name does as well.

This name was proposed by Mark Hodges during our naming campaign.  Mark is also an amateur enthusiast at the Science Museum of Western Virgina, and has succeeded Gary as Director of the Hopkins Planetarium.