July 01 – Discovery of Asteroid 6 Hebe (1847)

First spotted by amateur Polish astronomer Karl Ludwig Henke from his observatory at Driesen on July 1st 1847, asteroid 6 Hebe is a large main belt asteroid, and at magnitudes of up to +8.3 at opposition only four others are brighter. Hencke only found two asteroids, the other being 5 Astraea. But Hebe turned out to be quite an important discovery because it seems we might have quite a lot of it here on Earth. It is possible that as much as 40% of all Earth-striking meteorites (the H chondrite meteorites) originate there, although a 2017 paper by Marsett et al casts doubt on this theory. Their studies of Hebe suggest that it doesn’t appear to have lost enough of itself to be responsible for such a large volume of H-chondrites.

Hebe, by Antonio Canova (image credit: Mak Thorpe, 1999).
Hebe, by Antonio Canova (image credit: Mak Thorpe, 1999).

Hebe, Greek goddess of youth, was a daughter of Zeus and Hera. Her Roman equivalent, Juventas, gives us the word ‘juvenile’, as well as a fine football team, so called because they were founded by a group of young students.

1884 – Discovery of asteroid 238 Hypatia by Russian astronomer Viktor Knorre, son of Karl Knorre, and grandson of Ernst Knorre, both of whom were also pretty famous astronomers in their day. Hypatia is a C-type main belt asteroid of about 145 km wide, named after a Greek philosopher of the neoplatonist school, murdered by Christians in 415 AD.

2013 – Discovery of the as-yet unnamed moon of Neptune, S2004 N1.

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