There are over 600,000 known asteroids in our solar system. The majority of them orbit the sun in a band located between Mars and Jupiter in an area identified as the main asteroid belt.

To have an asteroid named after an earthling is a great honor. Only about 5% of the numbered asteroids have a designated name and my friend and our fellow Flagstaffian Pat Benson is one of those highly regarded individuals.

The given name for any asteroid cannot be bought. It must be awarded, and Lowell Observatory did so for Pat because of his being a longtime volunteer for their community outreach program and his decades of experience as an amateur astronomer.

The name of the formerly anonymous asteroid is now "(25225)=Patrickbenson=1998 TN30." Go to the web, search for "Asteroid Patrickbenson" and click on "Category:Massalia Asteroids-Wikipedia" to find links to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for additional information on that particular asteroid.

Pat is at Lowell Observatory most Friday evenings from dark until 10 p.m. manning one of the outdoor telescopes and is always glad to answer questions about the stars. Congratulations, Mr. Benson! We're all happy for you.

And on a different subject, you may be wondering how the Flagstaff Trails Initiative is progressing. According to its website -- and I'm quoting -- "The purpose of the FTI is to develop and implement a collaborative, cross-jurisdictional strategy for recreational trails in the Flagstaff region. This effort seeks to improve the quality, connectivity and community support for a sustainable trail system that balances the demand for recreation with the community's vision for conservation, development and health."

After reading that positive description I shouted a loud "Yessss" endorsement and did my old guy version of a happy dance -- stomp, stumble, stomp, stumble, stutterstep, stop. Try doing that three times fast.

If I sound enthused by the Flagstaff Trails Initiative, it's because there's good reason to be encouraged by its many positive activities. And if you wish to be inspired too, attend their public meeting Wednesday, June 19, from 4:30 until 6:30 p.m. in the Flagstaff High School Commons.

Before that meeting there will be two FTI recently suggested additions to the Campbell Mesa trail system you can hike. On Sunday, May 19, meet at the Campbell Mesa Trailhead on Old Walnut Canyon road at 4 p.m. to do the newly proposed Walnut Connector Loop, or on Sunday, May 26, meet in the parking area off East Route 66 at Forest Road 791 (located just past the abandoned water tank sitting in the field) at 4 p.m to do the newly proposed Campbell Tank trail. And why not do them both, gals and guys? My friend, Jeff Goulden, an FTI contributor, will lead both proposed hikes and I'll be the sweep.

For more complete directions or if you have questions, call 928-714-0504 or e-mail Adilllo@aol.com. The Flagstaff Trails Initiative cannot succeed without the complete support of our outdoor community and that's going to mean more than just lip service, my friends.

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