January 26 – Asteroid 159 Aemilia

Asteroid 159 Aemilia was discovered by the brothers Henry (this one was attributed to Paul) on January 26th 1876.  It’s a dark C-type asteroid of about 127 km wide, with a rotation period of approximately 25 hours.   It orbits with the Hygiea asteroids, but is rather larger than the rest, so may not be a member of the family.

According to the Dictionary of Minor Planet Names, by Lutz Schmadel (Springer Verlag), himself no mean discoverer of asteroids, it is probably named after a famous Roman road, the Via Aemilia.  I can’t argue with that, but I will mention that there are other possibilities.  The road was named after a Roman consul, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, a member of an extremely old and well-connected Roman family, any one of whom might have inspired the name.  Then again, Aemilia is thought by some to have been the mother of Romulus.  Or perhaps the Henry’s were thinking of the Vestal virgin found guilty of breaking her vows of chastity?

The lack of a definite ID on the name results in a lack of photography, so here is a snap of Paul and Prosper Henry, looking jovial and lighthearted.

The Brothers Henry

The Brothers Henry




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