Brian Eno honored with his own asteroid


The stellar
music legend’s
place in
outer space
has been secured
by an honorary
celestial rock

On Monday June 24, the Starmus Festival added scientific credibility to a belief that music fans have held for generations: Brian Eno is a star. The fifth edition of the annual global celebration, held in Zürich this year, honored the legendary artist with a certificate to commemorate Asteroid 81948, a celestial rock that was recently named after him.

Known for his innovative musicianship, phenomenal production abilities, and groundbreaking sartorial style, Eno accepted the accolade with grace and wit.

“I plan to mine it,” he joked with Andrew Mueller, host of the Monocle 24 program A Giant Leap, after receiving the prize.

The Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication
The Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication

Asteroid 81948 was discovered by American astronomer Marc William Buie at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado on July 31, 2000. It is one of nearly a thousand orbiting spheres discovered by the man who Wikipedia describes as “a prolific discoverer of minor planets.” The object’s official name is “Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno;” cool people call it Eno.

Although no photos of Eno the Asteroid exist, it is most likely talented, fashionable, and debonair.

Brian Eno has been grooving in outer space since he joined Roxy Music in 1972. On the band’s eponymous first album, he helped the song If There Is Something go from quirky twang to blistering passion with a VCS 3 synthesizer, which looks like a briefcase full of radar.



After leaving Roxy Music, Eno launched a solo career and pioneered the genre known as ambient music. Among his musical collaborators was Robert Fripp, who got an asteroid named in his honor (#81947) the month before Eno did. During this time, Eno also recorded the incomparable Thursday Afternoon, an hour-long song that once mesmerized every patron in Rossi’s, a Chicago dive bar, on a Tuesday afternoon.


In addition to the heavenly acknowledgement, the Starmus festival bestowed Eno with the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication, which is named after “the greatest scientist of the 20th and early 21st centuries” and “recognizes the merit of popular science on an international level.”

The VCS3

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and the feature film Apollo 11 also received this year’s Hawking Medal, which bears a portrait of Professor Hawking by cosmonaut Alexei Leonov and is given to recipients along with an engraved gold OMEGA moonwatch. Previous winners include the documentary film Particle Fever and physicist, author and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili.

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The theme of this year’s festival was described as “a tribute to the lunar programme and the Apollo astronauts’ first step on the Moon.”

In keeping with the program, Eno went to see Apollo 11 with Rusty Schweickart, a friend of “many many years” who was an astronaut on Apollo 9.

“Fabulous film,” he told Mueller. “It’s extraordinary.”

For All Mankind
In a further display of his stellar connection, Eno released a track called “Capsule” from his upcoming album, For All Mankind, in June.

For All Mankind will be released on July 19 alongside a re-issue of Eno’s 1983 masterpiece, Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks. Set for July 19, the release date commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.