August 24 – Minerva

The large, dark, C-type main-belt asteroid 93 Minerva was discovered today in 1867 by the American-Canadian astronomer James Craig Watson.  Minerva was the second of his 22 asteroids.  Several occultations of stars by Minerva have been observed since discovery to give an estimated diameter of 150 km.  It has recently become apparent that Minerva is in fact a trinary asteroid, with two tiny moons (just 3 and 4km across).

Minerva was the Roman equivalent of Athena, a goddess primarily associated with wisdom, although she did have several other attributes on her curriculum vitae (or resumé if you insist) including music, poetry and magic.

Roman copy of a 1st century Greek statue of Athena (Louvre, Paris).

Roman copy of a 1st century Greek statue of Athena (Louvre, Paris).

The moons of Minerva have been given names associated with their parent.  S/(93)1 is now known as Aegis, after the animal skin worn by Athena, while S/(93)2 Gorgoneion refers to a protective amulet (of the Gorgon’s head) worn by certain deities.

Today’d second picture is the shrine to Minerva at Handbridge in Chester.  You can’t see a great deal of detail, and the surrounding stonework is nineteenth century, but it is “Grade I” listed and the only one of its kind in situ in western Europe, so it deserves a mention.

Shrine to Minerva.  Handbridge, Chester.  (Image credit: Me!)

Shrine to Minerva. Handbridge, Chester. (Image credit: Me!)

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