August 17 – Discovery of Asteroid 295 Theresia (1890)

Main belt asteroid 295 Theresia was discovered on August 17th 1890 by the Austria astronomer Johann Palisa, a familiar name in these pages thanks to his enormous haul of asteroid finds.
This particular body is unusual among the earlier named asteroids in that even now, over a century later, almost nothing is known about its physical characteristics.  So the best I can do today is say that it is about 28km in diameter and has an,absolute magnitude of 10.19.

What I can tell you though, is that the name Theresia is in honour of Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina, daughter of Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor.  She and her husband, Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, had sixteen children, one of whom was christened Maria Antonio Josepha Johanna, but became better known later in life as Queen Marie Antoinette of France.


Johann Palisa was born in the region called Austrian Silesia (nowadays part of the Czech Republic), and Maria Theresa’s desire to regain control of this region, following its loss by her father in the War of Austrian Succession, helped bring Prussia and the Habsburg Monarchy to blows in the Seven Years War (known as the Third Silesian War in that neck of the woods).