November 14, 2010 #116 – Ceres Ferdinandea

While reading the  DAWN web site about the 2015 rendezvous with Ceres, I became curious about the discovery of the first minor planet.  With a little searching I found that Bode had in 1772, “calculated from his theory of the harmonic ratio of intervals between planets, that such a planet might be discovered” in an orbit between Mars and Jupiter, that we today designate the "Asteroid Belt".

The Italian astronomer Piazzi, of the Observatory at Palermo, using this information, searched and found the moving star on the first day of 1801 in the constellation Taurus. He named the object (Ceres Ferdinandea). Piazzi became ill and the star was lost. Based on Piazzi’s observations, Gauss calculated where it should be and relocated it.


I have included two articles, located from Google Books, which document these events. (Click to Enlarge)

(The Monthly Mirror, Vol. XIII – 1802)

(The Philosophical Magazine Vol. XV – 1803)

Clear Sky - Rich

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