October 08 – Ejnar Hertzsprung

Today is the birthday of Danish astronomer Ejnar Hertzsprung, born in Copenhagen in 1873.  He was co-developer of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, the scatter graph of choice for anyone wanting to get a grip on stellar evolution.

Hertzsprung discovered two asteroids from the Union Observatory in Johannesburg: a main belter called 1702 Kalahari, and a large* near-Earth “Mars crosser” called 1627 Ivar.  The naming of Kalahari is fairly self-explanatory, given the location of its discovery.  But Ivar is more mysterious.  There are many Ivar’s out there.  Most of the famous ones are Norwegian, but none springs out as the obvious candidate for this happy event.

*  –  My use of the word “large”, by the way, is relative.  1627 Ivar is 9 km wide, which would make it tiny in the main belt, but is very large for a neighbour of this planet.

Copenhagen's most famous resident (photo: me).

Copenhagen’s most famous resident (photo: me).

Unless you’ve been to Copenhagen, you have no idea how hard it is to take a photograph of the mermaid without a hundred or more heads in front of it.


1879  –  S-type asteroid 204 Kallisto discovered by Johann Palissa.


1887  –  Asteroid 270 Anahita discovered by C H F Peters.


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