May 22 – Discovery of Asteroid 41 Daphne

Asteroid 41 Daphne was discovered on May 22nd 1856 by Hermann Goldschmidt. It is a C-type (i.e. dark and mostly carbon), main belt asteroid, orbiting in 9:22 mean orbital resonance with Mars, meaning that every 9 times Daphne orbits the Sun (about 15,113 days) Mars goes round almost exactly 22 times, which is the same distance.

Daphne was a nymph who attracted the attention of the god Apollo. She wasn’t keen on his advances, though, and pleaded for help to her father, a river god. His bizarre solution to her problem was to turn his daughter into a laurel tree.

Apollo and Daphne, by Veronese.
Apollo and Daphne, by Veronese.

Asteroid 41 Daphne has a satellite, S/2008 (41) 1, named Peneius, after the river god mentioned above, discovered on March 28, 2008. Peneius orbits Daphne every 1.1 days.

Thomas Gold was born on this day in 1920. Gold was an Austrian-born astrophysicist, proponent of the steady state theory of the universe, whose family fled to Britain when the Germans invaded (his father was a wealthy Jewish industrialist) . The British government, compassionate and understanding as always, had him thrown into an internment camp as an enemy alien for the first two years of the war, but later relented and put him to work on radar development.

1900 – Asteroid 455 Bruchsalia was discovered by Max Wolf. It sounds like it might be an Italian sandwich, but this main belt asteroid is actually named after the German city of Bruschal.

Last updated May 09, 2019.