February 13 – asteroid 473 Nolli

Asteroid 473 Nolli is a fairly obscure beast. I thought I was doing a pretty darn good job at hiding my blog from the world, but if I ever wore a hat (I don’t: I look even more ridiculous in one) I would have to take it off to Nolli, for remaining in hiding for a length of time that would even give Lord Lucan a run for his money.

Discovered by Max Wolf on February 13th 1901, Nolli was then not seen again until 1987. It is of unknown size (it is thought to be in the range 10 to 20 km diameter) and of unknown spectral class. It may or may not be a member of the Eunomia family, but we aren’t sure yet. We do know the orbital characteristics, though; but not the albedo or rotation period.

We also know where the name Nolli came from. It is a pet name of one of the children in the Wolf household. I’m not sure which one, though, as their names were Franz, Ernst and Werner.


Aphelion (2006 03 06) 2.946 AU
Perihelion 2.383 AU
Semi-major Axis 2.664 AU
Orbital Period 1588.361 days
Eccentricity 0.106
Average Orbital Speed 18.2 km/s
Inclination 12.91°
Mean Anomoly 85.936°
Longitude of Ascending Node 332.405°
Argument of Perihelion 153.614°

On the same day he discovered Nolli, Wolf also found the next asteroid in the list, 474 Prudentia. We don’t know a great deal more about this one either. Prudentia is about 37 km in diameter, and has an absolute magnitude of 10.6. As far as composition goes though, it’s still an unknown quantity, which has led it to be classified as an X type, the name signifying that the chemical make-up of the asteroid can’t be determined by analysis of the visible wavelength.

The name Prudentia is, obviously, the Latin form of Prudence. Prudence is, as I’m sure we have all been told at some point, a virtue, making her one of the seven virtues first identified by Greek philosophers, then taken up by Christians as a set of desirable character traits. virtues are split into two groups: the older cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude) and the newer theological virtues of St Paul (faith, hope and charity/love).

Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence

We have an engraving for you today. It is by the Italian abbot and artist Pietro Antonio Pazzi, and dates from 1762. It depicts Prudentia as envisaged by Domenico Zampieri in the frescoes he painted for the Abbey of Grottaferrata (a small town to the south east of Rome).


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