November 17 – Discovery of Asteroid 107 Camilla (1868)

Today’s asteroid, 107 Camilla, was discovered on November 17th 1868 by Norman Robert Pogson.  It is just about within the main belt, being a member of the Cybele Group, a collection of rocks lying on the outer edge of the belt, beyond the 2:1 Kirkwood Gap, and thought to be the result of the break up of a much larger object sometime long ago.  Camilla herself is one of the larger asteroids, with a diameter of 209km putting her right up among the big guns of the asteroid belt.

Camilla is so-called after a queen of the same name from Roman mythology, suckled by a mare (in accordance with the obligatory bizarre upbringings of many mythological characters), and later to become an ally of the Rutuli, opponents of Aeneas in Virgil’s Aeneid.  She is one of the many historical and mythological characters encountered by Dante Alighieri in “Limbo”, the first circle of Hell, in his Inferno.

King Mètabo feeds his daughter Camilla with the milk of a mare (from a fresco by Niccolò dell’Abate, Bologna).

Camilla (we’re back with the asteroid now) has two small satellite.  The first to be discovered is of about 6 miles across (10 to 11 km), spotted in 2001 by astronomers at Towson University in Maryland, using images from the Hubble Space Telescope.  At the time of writing this satellite is designated S/2001 (107) 1 but has no official name.  I’m voting for Charles.

Camilla (and Charles)
Camilla (and Charles?)

The second satellite, S/2016 (107) 1, is even smaller, probably just 3.5km across.  It was discovered by the Very Large Telescope in Chile, in 2016.