November 05 – Discovery of Asteroid 126 Velleda (1872)

November 5th was a big day for prolific French asteroid hunters, the brothers Henry (Paul and Prosper), who clocked up three between them.
First today is 126 Velleda, a largish main belt asteroid discovered this day in 1872. In Germanic history Veleda was a prophetess of the Bructeri, a tribe of North Rhine-Westphalia. She correctly prophesied that her people would be successful in battle against the Romans, in what is now known as the Batavian revolt. Had they been more inquisitive though,  her friends might have thought to ask her for how long, because it didn’t take the Romans too much time to muster nine legions to crush the uprising.  Veleda was captured in AD 77.

Velleda (Charles Voillemot).A probably not entirely accurate representation
Velleda (Charles Voillemot). A probably not entirely accurate representation

Asteroid 127 Johanna, 116 km wide, discovered by the brothers on the same day, and possibly named after Joan of Arc, is notable for its unusual classification.  It is a “CX” type, as it displays the properties of both a C-type and an X-type.

Today’s final asteroid is 177 Irma, a large dark one, credited to Paul Henry, and discovered exactly five years after the first two, on November 5th, 1877.

Today in 1964 saw the launch of Mariner 3 from Cape Canaveral. The plan was for a flyby of Mars, but the cover on its solar panels failed to open,  and it is now defunct, and orbiting the Sun.

Mariner 3 (image credit: NASA).
Mariner 3 (image credit: NASA).

Mariner 4, launched three weeks later, had more success, and took the first ever close-up photographs of Mars.