January 07 – Discovery of Asteroid 410 Chloris (1896)

Asteroid 410 Chloris was discovered on January 7th 1896 by Auguste Charlois.  It’s a large, C-type, main-belt asteroid of approximately 115 km diameter, and lends its name to a family of similar bodies.

The Chloris family contains an unknown number of members, obviously, because we can never be sure they’ve all been found.  But even if we only consider those asteroids we know about, there is still some uncertainty surrounding how many asteroids there are in the family, depending on which method you use to determine whether a particular asteroid should be included or not.  For example, using hierarchical clustering, the family has 21 members, but using wavelet analysis, there are 27.  One day in the distant future, when I lose the will to live, I’ll try to explain these methods.  In the meantime, here are the facts and figures.

Aphelion 3.376 AU
Perihelion 2.082 AU
Orbital period 4.51 years
orbital speed 18.03 km/second
Semi-major axis 2.729 AU
Eccentricity 0.237
Inclination 10.921°
Longitude of ascending node 97.251°

The name Chloris comes from a Greek work meaning something along the lines of pale greenish (think “chlorophyll”).  There are several mythological characters with the name, but the one apparently invoked in this case was one of the Niobids, the fourteen children of Niobe and Amphion, most famous for being nearly all killed by Apollo and Artemis.  Chloris had been born with the name Meliboea, but was turned permanently palid by the aforementioned ordeal (which she survived) and changed her name to something suitably pale and interesting.

Artemis and Apollo Killing the Niobids
Artemis and Apollo Killing the Niobids

The photograph (above) shows a detail from a Roman sarcophagus found near the Via Appia in Rome in 1824, and now housed in the Glyptothek in Munich, a museum built specifically to house the Greek and Roman sculptures of King Ludwig I of Bavaria.

Aside:  I can’t let this post go by without directing you to an exceptional recording by Susan Graham and Roger Vignoles of À Chloris, one of my favourite songs by the Venezuelan composer Reynaldo Hahn.  CLICK HERE first to hear it, they buy the album (“La Belle Epoque”, Sony, SK60168).  I apologise in advance for the adverts YouTube will fire your way.

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