October 17 – Asteroid 207 Hedda

Medium-sized (approx 60km diameter) C-type, main belt asteroid 207 Hedda was discovered on October 17th 1879 by Johann Palisa, and was his 20th discovery.

It was named after the wife of the German astronomer Friedrich August Theodor Winnecke, whose name was Hedwig.  The change to the nordic version of her name, Hedda, was suggested by J Gylden at the meeting of the Astronomische Gesellschaft in September 1881.

Friedrich August Theodor Winnecke

Friedrich August Theodor Winnecke

Hedwig Winnecke (née Dell) was a niece of the Russian astronomer Otto Struve, who we will almost certainly meet again.  Struve was director of the observatory at Pulkovo in Russia in the 1850s and persuaded August Winnecke to take up a post there.  That, presumably, was how he met his future wife.

1962  –  Kosmos 10 (aka Zenit-2 #5) was launched, using a Vostok 2 rocket, on October 17th, 1962, from Baikonur Cosmodrome, into a low-Earth orbit with a perigee of about 178 kilometres (111 miles). It was primarily a reconnaissance mission, and was landed by parachute four days after launch, but, as it was derived from the manned Vostok launch vehicle, it was also used to research radiation as part of the Soviet Union’s manned space programme.

2002  –  Launch of the International Gamma Ray Physics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) by the European Space Agency. 2002 was quite a while ago in spacecraft life-spans, but INTEGRAL is still going strong, and has recently been used, in conjunction with the Fermi and Swift space observatories, to observe gamma ray jets near a supermassive black hole using gravitational microlensing.

Artist's Impression of INTEGRAL (image: ESA–Medialab)

Artist’s Impression of INTEGRAL (image: ESA–Medialab)

Also today we have a small batch of main belt asteroids, all discovered in 193p by Karl Reinmuth. They are 1172 Äneas, 1173 Archiestown, 1174 Marmara, and 1175 Margo.



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