Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Asteroid named after Emeritus Professor Corrie Bakels: 'I revolve around the sun in 5.5 years'

Corrie Bakels is known as one of the founders of bio-archaeology in the Netherlands. One of her former students, Dr Marco Langbroek, active in astronomy, made a request to the International Astronomic Union to name a recently discovered asteroid after her. Hearing the news, Bakels was astounded. 'My first thought was 'fake message', but it is actually true!'

Emeritus professor Bakels in front of her portrait in the Academy Building.

Feet on the ground

Emeritus Professor Bakels was delighted when receiving the news. 'My first thought was 'fake message', but it is actually true: I revolve around the sun in 5.5 years. When it had finally dawned on me, I first went for a walk, just to get my feet back on the ground again. This is such an honor.'

She has an interest in astronomy herself. 'In the previous century I was hosted by the ESO complex at La Silla, Chili. I was allowed to make sightings in the Dutch telescope dome at night. A completely different world and an amazing experience for someone who is used to rooting in the ground instead.'


The asteroid that now bears the name (555292) Bakels was formerly known as 2013 UZ32. The asteroid is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter at a distance of 2.8 Astronomical Units from the sun. In 2013 the 2 kilometer sized space rock was first sighted from Hungary by Kristzián Sárneczy and Marco Langbroek.

Langbroek took the initiative of naming the asteroid after Professor Emeritus Bakels. 'This asteroid has been sighted for long enough that its orbit is sufficiently well established to give it a permanent designation.' He explains. 'Following tradition, the ones making the discovery get the privilege of suggesting a name to the International Astronomical Union, which is the organisation that names objects in space.'

The location of (555292) Bakels

Female scientists

When naming objects in space, Langbroek mostly goes for names of individuals who contributed significantly to science or culture. 'And people whom I personally appreciate for whatever reason. The first batch of newly numbered objects I am preferably naming after female scientists, since they are still underrepresented in the naming of asteroids. Even while there are enough female scientists of formidable stature whom definitely deserve it: like Corrie.'

Langbroek did not have to ponder long to find a suitable candidate in the archaeological field of the Netherlands. 'The name of Corrie came to me right away. She has an enourmous state of record and she is, without a doubt, one of the great names of Dutch archaeology of the past 50 years. In addition I have personally always appreciated her, first when I was her student, later as her colleague.'

The location and orbit of (555292) Bakels

Remarkable role

Before he made the step to astronomy, Langbroek studied Prehistory in the 90s at the then-called Faculty of Pre- and Protohistory, now the Faculty of Archaeology. 'Here I was being taught by Corrie, after which I worked with her as a colleague when I was working on my PhD.'

'I think I speak for everyone in Dutch archaeology that Corrie has played a very remarkable role in our discipline. And continuous to do so!'

This website uses cookies.  More information.