John McConnell, who was born in 1946, comes from Maghaberry and is a member of the EAAS which meets monthly in the Thompson School, Ballyrobert, Co. Antrim. He is well known among both professional and amateur astronomers, and takes a particular interest in observational astronomy and astrophotography and in the history of Irish astronomy.
The asteroid, (9929)McConnell, was discovered in 1982 at the Oak Ridge Observatory , in Harvard, Massachusetts, operated by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where Armagh Observatory's former Director Dr Eric Lindsay spent a number of years working for his PhD more than 70 years ago. The minor planet is very faint, (currently mag 16.3) being only 5 miles across and currently in the constellation of Leo. It has a nearly circular orbit passing close to the inner edge of the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter
By gaining a piece of heavenly real estate, John McConnell joins a list of almost ten thousand names from all over the world, including individuals, groups and organizations, that have been honoured by the International Astronomical Union by having an asteroid named after them. Calculations by Armagh Observatory summer students Aisling Haughey and Rebecca Clark, from St. Michael's Grammar School, Lurgan, and Guildford County School, Surrey, have shown that the asteroid's orbit is extremely stable and unlikely to alter significantly in less than at least a hundred million years.