Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan Meet 200 Million Miles Away from Earth

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan passed right near each other last month—millions of miles above earth. Not because they were launched into space by some kind of, I don't know, space... cannon? But because they are asteroids!

Or, well, there are two asteroids named after Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, who came within 40 million miles of each other (this is close in space terms) for a kind of Cosmicomics-meets-You've Got Mail thing:

Asteroid 12818 Tomhanks swung within about 151 million miles of Earth on Sept. 12, while 8353 Megryan came about 191 million miles away on Sept. 27. Neither came closer than the distance between the Earth and the sun, and they did not pose any risk to our planet.

Weirdly, the fact that the asteroid is called "12818 Tomhanks" makes it seem much more human than it would if it were named "Tom Hanks." It's not the only celebrity asteroid, either—there's a Hemingway, a Robinhood, and a Stephencolbert—because you can basically name your asteroid whatever you want, if you discover it. (Nothing "offensive, political or commercial.") You just need to cite, like so:

In naming 8353 Megryan, Elst provided a citation listed in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Small-Body Database. "Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra (Meg Ryan, b. 1961) majored in journalism and later became an actress. She showed her talent in 'You've Got Mail' (1999)."

[MNN, images via AP]