August 13 – Discovery of Neptune’s moon Laomedeia (2002)

A very small moon of Neptune, Laomedeia, was discovered today in 2002 by a very large group of astronomers (so I won’t be naming them) using the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) 4-m telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii 3.6-m telescope on Mauna Kea. Laomedeia orbits the planet Neptune every 8.7 Earth years, and is a relatively tiny 42km in diameter (Neptune is about 49,000 km across). In Greek mythology, Laomedeia was one of the fifty Nereids. She is described, rather vaguely, by Hesiod as the “leader of the folk”. Make of that what you will.

Nereids mourning Achilles
Nereids mourning Achilles

I can’t find a representation of Laomedeia anywhere, but the black-figure hydria, above, shows nine of the Nereids, so there’s about an eighteen percent chance she’s in there somewhere.

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Physicist Anders Jonas Ångström was born today in 1814 in Lödgö, in the province of Medelpad, Sweden. A keen believer in the use of spectroscopy, he was the first person to examine the spectrum of the aurora borealis. He now gives his name to the unit of measurement of the wavelength of light, denoted by the letter Å.

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ALSO TODAY . . . .
1847 – Discovery of asteroid 7 Iris by J R Hind (his first). Iris is a very large S-type main belt asteroid, over 200 km wide in some directions, named after the goddess of the rainbow.
1861 – Discovery of asteroid 71 Niobe by (Karl Theodor) Robert Luther. Niobe is 83 km in diameter, and an S-type asteroid. It takes it’s name from the daughter of Tantalus in Greek mythology, who made the mistake of boasting about her fourteen children to the goddess Leto (who only had two). Some accounts say one child survived.
2001 – Discovery of Uranus’ moon Ferdinand. As far as we know, this 6 km wide moon, named after the King of Naples in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, is the most distant from the planet.

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