Watchmaking is closely connected with astronomy. Indeed, the technique of measuring time, just like the idea of dividing time into intervals based on periodic astronomical phenomena, was born out of early astronomical observations. At the same time, astronomy owes much to chronometry. Many of the ancient clock- and watchmakers were also masters of the astronomical instruments which aided in the exploration of the mysteries of the science of the celestial bodies. And astronomers haven’t forgotten this. Those who discover various astronomical objects are entitled to name the things they find, and some of them – though very few – have taken the opportunity to honour outstanding watchmakers by memorialising their names on astronomical maps and in the pages of astronomical reference books.
Observant researchers of the history of watchmaking will be able to find on lunar maps the Byrgius crater, named in honour of the Swiss clockmaker, mathematician and maker of astronomical instruments Jost Bürgi (1552–1632), and the Rittenhouse crater, which was given the name of the American astronomer, inventor, mathematician and clockmaker David Rittenhouse (1732–1796). He became famous for inventing and making the supercomplicated clocks with an orrery. Named after the great Robert Hooke (1625–1703), the English scientist and inventor who made a serious contribution to the development of precision horology, are craters on the Moon and Mars, as well as the asteroid 3514 Hooke. With the same enthusiasm, astronomers honoured the memory of his colleague and rival, the great scientist Christiaan Huygens (1629–1695), who became famous in
horology for his invention of the balance spiral. His name was given to lunar and Martian craters, an asteroid – 2801 Huygens – and a lunar mountain, known as Mons Huygens. This list of astronomical objects named in honour of the greats also includes that of the remarkable Russian watchmaker and inventor Ivan Kulibin, after whom the asteroid 5809 Kulibin was named.
And now, in a move which was for him completely unexpected, the name of the Russian watchmaker and inventor Konstantin Chaykin has been added to the list. It was revealed in January 2022 and came as a total surprise. It so happened that the Russian astronomer Leonid Elenin, one of the most successful modern comet hunters and discoverer of C/2010 X1 and P/2011 NO1 comets and of several asteroids, decided to name after Chaykin the asteroid 301522 (2009 FX23), discovered by him on 22nd March 2009.
Official confirmation of its naming was published by the International Astronomical Union in the WG Small Bodies Nomenclature Bulletin on 2nd September, 2021 (Volume 1, #7, p. 8). Asteroid
301522 Chaykin is located in the main asteroid belt, has a diameter of around 3,528km, and a period of orbit around the Sun of 2041.64 days (5.59 years).
Leonid Elenin personally presented Konstantin Chaykin with a certificate of the naming of the small celestial body. The Russian astronomer feels that by doing so, he expresses his support for
the work of the master in the field of complex mechanical watches, work which may be useful in deep space expeditions: “The name of an asteroid can be suggested by the one who discovers it. For example, I suggested Konstantin’s name, and the working group on naming small bodies in the solar system agreed. Konstantin and I met a few years ago, when he was creating his first ‘Martian’ watch. I feel that the candidature of this Russian watchmaker, creator of some of the most complicated mechanical timepieces and someone who is also incredibly interested in the topic of space, couldn’t have fit more perfectly. He is fully deserving of it.”
Quite a lot of time has passed since Leonid discovered asteroid 301522. It’s funny, but I couldn’t have imagined how things turned out. But note that, in fact, without even knowing I would move
exactly in that direction myself, I developed and invented timepieces and new astronomical and cosmic functions, unexpectedly for me yet so well appreciated by Leonid Elenin. I have many more promising ideas and developments in store to be honest, and this gift greatly inspires me. I feel that I have more strength to implement at least part of my plans. Leonid – thank you!
List of additional astronomical and cosmic mechanical watch complications and functions invented by Konstantin Chaykin:
‘Mysterious’ annual calendar with date and month indications
Chaykin’s system of natural 3D moonphase indication
Chaykin’s system of natural 3D Earth phase indication as it observed from the Moon
Martian perpetual calendar
System of synchronised indication of Earth and Mars time with Chaykin’s Martian gear train
Planetary indication of the relative positions of the Sun, Earth and Mars in a wristwatch
Indication of oppositions and perihelic oppositions
Indication of mission length in sols (Mars solar days)
Martian tourbillon with a revolution for every Mars minute (approximately 61.65 Earth seconds)
Synchronised retrograde display of Mars date and day of the week with a two-week period indicator