January 10 – Discovery of Asteroid 170 Maria (1877)

Asteroid 170 Maria was discovered on January 10th 1877 by Henri Joseph Perrotin (1845-1904).  It is an S-type asteroid in the main belt, is 44.3 km in diameter, and rotates every 13.14 hours.

Maria was named after the sister of Antonio Abetti (1846-1928), the Italian astronomer and director of the Arcetri Observatory, who worked out its orbit.

Antonio Abetti (I can't find a photograph of his sister).
Antonio Abetti (I can’t find a photograph of his sister).

Maria is the head of a small family of similarly inclined asteroids orbiting between 2.5 and 2.7 AU from the Sun.


1894   –   Asteroid 381 Myrrha discovered by Auguste Charlois, and named after the mother of Adonis.


1936   –   American astronomer and co-discoverer of the cosmic microwave background radiation, Robert Woodrow Wilson born in Houston, Texas.  Wilson was awarded (jointly with Pyotr Kapitsa and Arno Penzias) the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1978, for the discovery.


1969   –   Launch of the Venera 6 spacecraft by the USSR, five days after Verera 5.  The mission to Venus was a success, with 51 minutes of data regarding the Venusian atmosphere being returned while the craft descended to the surface by parachute, before being destroyed by that same atmosphere.


2002   –   Discovery of classical Kuiper Belt object 2002 AW197 by six astronomers using observations from Mauna Kea and Palomar (deciding where and by whom these things were discovered was a lot easier in the 19th century when they were usually discovered by one man in Austria or France).  2002 AW197 might be a dwarf planet, but this has yet to be confirmed.