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Spot checking Wikipedia, Google and JPL's Horizions I found several musicians right away, including Lou Reed, Elvis, Freddy Mercury, and David Bowie.

Is there a way to find all of the asteroids that are named after musicians somehow? Or at least most of them? If there's not a compiled list, at least something for which an automated search for "music" or "musician" or related terms can be done?

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  • $\begingroup$ possibly helpful: iau.org/public/themes/naming/#minorplanets $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 2 at 14:35
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    $\begingroup$ How would you categorise 2000 Herschel. Is it for Caroline or William? Is it for William as Astronomer or William as Composer. $\endgroup$ – James K Mar 2 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ @JamesK As astronomers, Caroline or William Herschel's lives are really intriguing to me. Not sure how one would pursue formulating a search yet, I suppose it would require some curation. For the purposes of this question though, I just need to hook up names and some biographical connection so I can start learning how to do the search. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 2 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ Do you want to include songwriters, like early rock n roll legend, Phil Spector? And you can't mention Freddy without also mentioning Queen's guitarist (and songwriter) Brian May, who is also an astrophysicist. $\endgroup$ – PM 2Ring Mar 3 at 4:20
  • $\begingroup$ @PM2Ring yes, final curation (who's in, who's out?) would be a bit subjective. Thanks for the links! I didn't know about those two's asteroids. I've mentioned Brian May's discussion of asteroid Freddiemercury here and here in the past, how thoughtful of him not to plug his own asteroid in the process! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 3 at 4:33
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There are many of them, e.g. Jimi Hendrix, Maria Callas, Frank Zappa, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Mark Knopfler, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Enrico Caruso, Paul McCartney, Jacques Brel, Bob Dylan, Niccolò Paganini.

If Wikipedia has an entry for the asteroid you might get it by Wikidata (SPARQL) queries. E.g. musicians - Q639669, singers - Q177220, or guitarists - Q855091.

However, as not every asteroid has a complete Wikidata entry, these lists will not be exhaustive.


Edit: Here is a query that selects all asteroids named after a person that is a subclass of musician (currently 288).

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow, this is an excellent answer, thank you! I tried adding date of birth after 1850 but instantly got lost and confused. i.stack.imgur.com/IVjMx.png I'll try reading the user manual now, wish me luck! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 6 at 22:59
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    $\begingroup$ You can query the date of birth property and the filter for the desired date. E.g. see bit.ly/2HhTKAY $\endgroup$ – aventurin Mar 7 at 23:26
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I don't think you can do better than search the wikipedia pages, where there is a list https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minor_planets_named_after_people. Or you can search yourself through https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meanings_of_minor_planet_names, if you don't trust wikipedian's curation

But you may need to be quite subtle about how you search, since searching for "music" won't find those that are described as "composers", nor those who are "sopranos", or "violinists" and so forth. There are also edge cases. William Herschel (who may have coined the name "asteroid") was also a classical composer of note. Or "644 Cosima", named after Wagner's second wife. How about 1683 Castafiore, named for a fictional "musician"?

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  • $\begingroup$ wow! I didn't know that Wikipedia would support such a nice database. It's optimized for clickability, I'm not sure how to go about automating a search of it without building a web crawler. I wonder if all that exists as a downloadable text file, JSON, or similar. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 2 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ That's even better. I've put it into the answer. $\endgroup$ – James K Mar 2 at 23:52
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh There's a Wikimedia API, but it's a pain to use directly on tables, IIRC, since you get the table data in HTML form, rather than in nice JSON. I suppose there's code that makes it simpler in the various Python libraries mentioned here, and I guess doing a search for "Wikipedia Python tables" could be useful too. $\endgroup$ – PM 2Ring Mar 3 at 4:35
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Searching for asteroids named after musicians in Wikidata yields 427 results and the list is likely to be still incomplete. This is similar to Aventurin's answer but I also included "musician" as occupation and not just subclasses of it, so this query gets more results (currently 427 vs 318) - hopefully not caused by duplications.

The query is here just in case somebody wants to check it or play with it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow, thanks! Music of the spheres... $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 10 at 10:12

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