05/07/2013 07:24 BST | Updated 04/09/2013 06:12 BST

Asteroid 5099 Renamed After Sci-Fi Legend Iain M Banks

While a nebula evaporates in the far distance with creeping galactic slowness, the crew of a scavenger ship come upon a wreck in the asteroid field. Sending a burst message to their outrider ships, they begin preparations for removing anything of value, and eventually tearing the hulk down to scrap. After the wreck has been picked clean, the bare bones will be pushed into a trajectory that will eventually take it into orbit around the drydocks on the moon Geras. There it will orbit in a vast are

The late author, futurist and sci-fi icon Iain Banks has had an asteroid named after him.

Asteroid 5099 is now officially known as 'Ianbanks', thanks to the work of Harvard's Minor Planets Centre.

The centre, which is part of the International Astronomical Union, applied to the Union's Committee for Small Body Nomenclature for the change in April, when it became clear that the writer was seriously ill with cancer.

Writing on the MPC's official blog, Galache said he was inspired to request the change by the profound impact that Banks' 'Culture' novels had made on his life in science.

He wrote:

"Banks truly was a gifted story teller. When I heard of his sickness I immediately asked myself what I could do for Mr Banks, and the answer was obvious: Give him an asteroid!"

iain banks

Above: Iain Banks

Now the change has been approved, its official citation reads:

"Iain M. Banks (1954-2013) was a Scottish writer best known for the Culture series of science fiction novels; he also wrote fiction as Iain Banks. An evangelical atheist and lover of whisky, he scorned social media and enjoyed writing music. He was an extra in Monty Python & The Holy Grail."

Discovered in 1985, asteroid Iainbanks is found in the Main Asteroid Belt of our solar system. It is about 6.1km wide, completes a revolution around the Sun every 3.94 years and is probably made of stone.

Galache added:

"The Culture is an advanced society in whose midst most of Mr Banks's Sci-Fi novels take place. Thanks to their technology they are able to hollow out asteroids and use them as ships capable of faster-than-light travel while providing a living habitat with centrifugally-generated gravity for their thousands of denizens.

I'd like to think Mr Banks would have been amused to have his own rock."