October 21 – Asteroid 76 Freia

Today we say hello to 76 Freia, a large, dark, main belt asteroid, discovered on this day in 1862 by an extremely occasional visitor to these pages, the German astronomer Heinrich d’Arrest (this is his only asteroid discovery).  Freia is a member of the Cybele group of asteroids, in the outer reaches of the main belt.  They are thought to be the remnants of a large object which broke up some time long ago.

Freia (by Carl Emil Doepler, 1824-1905).

Freia (by Carl Emil Doepler, 1824-1905).

The goddess Freyja, after whom you have probably deduced this asteroid is named, is a typically strange member of the Norse deities.  She drove a chariot drawn by cats, and was seldom seen in public without her sidekick, a boar called Hildisvini, which she would also ride when her pussy wagon wasn’t available.

Freyja, possibly meaning “lady” (as in the German frau) is goddess of love, sexuality and fertility, and it is thought by some that she and Frigg (whom we may well meet on November 12 under the guise of the splendidly-named asteroid 77 Frigga) derive from a common Germanic predecessor.


1879  ⇒   Asteroid 208 Lacrimosa discovered by Johann Palissa.


1967  ⇒  Death of Ejnar Hertzsprung.


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