September 03 – 230 Athamantis

Asteroid 230 Athamantis, discovered September 3rd 1882, was the only asteroid to be found by the German-Austrian astronomer Leo Anton Karl de Ball. It is an S-type, just over 100km across, and has a rotation period of almost exactly 24 hours.

Roman Fresco showing Phrixos and Helle (Athamantis)

Roman Fresco showing Phrixos and Helle (Athamantis)

In Greek mythology Athamantis is usually known as Helle, and she features in the story of Jason and the Argonauts. To cut a long story short she fell off a flying golden ram into the Hellespont (who hasn’t done that on a Saturday night?) and died. Her twin brother Phrixos survived the flight and presented the ram’s golden fleece to King Aeetes of Colchis, thus starting another long story.

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Asteroid 250 Bettina is one of Johann Palissa‘s. He discovered it lurking in the main belt on September 3rd, 1885. It has an absolute magnitude of 7.58, is about 80km across, and completes one full rotation every 5 hours (as usual, my statistics are severely rounded up or down; I assume nobody reading this cares much about being accurate to three decimal places).

Baroness Bettina de Rothschild

Baroness Bettina de Rothschild

Bettina gets her name from the Baroness Bettina de Rothschild (15 Feb 1858 to 24 Mar 1892), wife of the banker Albert Salomon von Rothschild. Palisa was in need of cash to fund an expedition to view the total solar eclipse of 1886, and Rothschild parted with £50 (a sum probably a lot more eye-widening then than now) for the opportunity to immortalise his wife.

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