March 24 – Concordia

On March 24 1860 Karl Theodor Robert Luther discovered the C-type asteroid 58 Concordia from the Düsseldorf-Bilk Observatory.  As you may remember (I mention it every so often) Luther discovered 24 asteroids in all.  This one was named after the Roman goddess of marital harmony and understanding.  The name was chosen by Karl Christian Bruhns, the recently appointed professor of astronomy at the University of Leipzig.

Concordia (image credit: Andreas Praefcke)
Concordia (image credit: Andreas Praefcke)

Concordia is a main belt asteroid, 90-odd km wide, orbiting at between 2.5 and 2.8 AU, and taking 4.44 years to orbit the Sun.  It is a member of the Nemsis family, a medium-sized asteroid family with about 250 known members, predominantly C-types.


1781   –   Messier 105 (NGC 3379).  If you think back a couple of days you might remember me mentioning a group of galaxies in Leo containing M95 and M96, both of which were discovered on March 20th 1781.  M105 is also in the group, and it was discovered on March 24th 1781, also by Messier’s assistant Pierre Méchain, who was on a roll.  Unlike the other two, this one is an elliptical galaxy, and is known to have a supermassive black hole at its centre.

M105 (image credit: NASA)
M105 (image credit: NASA)

M105 is the brightest elliptical galaxy in this particular group.  It is an E1 type, and is approximately 38 million light years away from Earth.  The “E” rating for galaxies is based on their elongation, where “E0” is fairly round, while “E7” is extremely stretchy.  E1 galaxies are only slightly elongated.