Two of the silver screen’s biggest stars, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, recently met up for an out of this world date. No, this isn’t the plot for their new romantic comedy. The celestial meeting was actually a cosmic event.
The beloved on-screen couple who starred together in “You’ve Got Mail,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Joe Versus the Volcano” reunited in space. Sort of.
Asteroid 12818 Tomhanks and asteroid 8353 Megryan both made their closest approaches to Earth in September, coming within 40 million miles of each other, according to the Mother Nature Network. While 40 million miles may seem far, this distance is very close for asteroids.
Astronomers who discover asteroids are free to name their discoveries as long as the names are not “offensive, political or commercial,” according to SPACE.com. The asteroids named after Hanks and Ryan were discovered seven years apart and in different hemispheres.
Ryan’s asteroid was discovered in 1989 by an astronomer from the European Southern Observatory in Chile who was a fan of the actress. And the University of Arizona astronomers who discovered the Hanks asteroid in 1996 chose the name after being impressed by the “Apollo 13? actor, who also worked on an HBO series “From the Earth to the Moon.”
Other asteroids with famous namesakes that will be making their closest approaches to Earth this month include Hemingway, Hitchcock, van Gogh, Tchaikovsky and Stephen Colbert.