December 07 – Asteroid 423 Diotima

Asteroid 423 Diotima was discovered from Nice by Auguste Charlois on December 7th 1898. It’s in the main belt, is a C-type, is fairly large (approximately 170 by 140 km) and rotates about every 4.8 hours.

Diptima has a semi-major axis of a little over 3 AU.  Semi-major axis is a new phrase to these pages, but don’t panic: it’s just the longest radius of of an elliptical orbit.

Diotima of Mantinea

Diotima of Mantinea

Diotima was named, by the Astronomisches Rechen-Institut, after one of Socrates’ teachers, Diotima of Mantinea (if she ever existed – the jury is still out on whether or not she was simply a creation of Plato). It is from the teachings of Diotima that we get the concept of platonic love. I can’t help thinking there’s a clue to her existence (or lack of it) in that name. Surely it would have been diotimic love?

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