Star-Shy Asteroids

Thanks to Gaia, many star positions (and proper motions) and minor planet positions (orbits) have improved so much that those of us who try to observe stellar occultations by minor planets have recently seen a vast improvement in our likelihood of success. These occultation events are an excellent way to discover minor planet satellites as well as double stars. At the very least, they provide highly accurate minor planet astrometric positions that lead to more accurate orbits, and if several observers record an event, the size and shape of the minor planet can be more accurately determined.

Perhaps surprisingly, a number of low-numbered (and thus generally larger) minor planets have never been observed to occult a star. Here are the ten lowest-numbered minor planets still awaiting their first-observed stellar occultation event.

To predict future stellar occultation events for any given minor planet (and so much more!), use the latest version of Occult – Occultation Prediction Software by David Herald.

Last Updated: June 17, 2024

157 Dejanira
Main-belt Asteroid. Diameter 19.959 ± 2.476 km.
Discovered 1875 Dec 1 by A. Borrelly at Marseilles.
Named for the second wife Dejanira (Greek: Deianeira) of Heracles; Megara was the first. She unwittingly killed Heracles by sending him a garment steeped in the poisoned blood of the centaur Nessus. This garment, Nessus has said, had power to reclaim a husband from unlawful loves.

180 Garumna
Main-belt Asteroid. Diameter 23.440 ± 0.414 km.
Discovered 1878 Jan 29 by J. Perrotin at Toulouse.
Named for the Garonne river on which the city of discovery is situated. Garumna is the ancient name.

183 Istria
Main-belt Asteroid. Diameter 32.927 ± 0.168 km.
Discovered 1878 Feb 8 by J. Palisa at Pola.
Named for the {now Croatian} peninsula at the northern end of the Adriatic sea, containing Trieste and the city of discovery. Named by Vice-Admiral B. Freiherr von Wüllerstorf who was the commander of the first Austrian circumnavigatory adventure with the frigate Novara.

228 Agathe
Main-belt Asteroid. Diameter 9.30 ± 0.8 km.
Discovered 1882 Aug 19 by J. Palisa at Vienna.
Named in honor of the youngest daughter of Theodor von Oppolzer (1841-1886), professor of astronomy in Vienna.

244 Sita
Main-belt Asteroid. Diameter 11.077 ± 0.022 km.
Discovered 1884 Oct 14 by J. Palisa at Vienna.
Named possibly for the wife of Rama in the Sanskrit epic The Ramayana. It is a symbol of the ideal spouse and of everlasting faith.

262 Valda
Main-belt Asteroid. Diameter 14.645 ± 0.141 km.
Discovered 1886 Nov 3 by J. Palisa at Vienna.
Any reference of this name to a person or occurrence is unknown. Name proposed by the Baroness Bettina von Rothschild.

263 Dresda
Main-belt Asteroid. Diameter 23.952 ± 0.213 km.
Discovered 1886 Nov 3 by J. Palisa at Vienna.
The planet is named to honor the German city of Dresden.

281 Lucretia
Main-belt Asteroid. Diameter 11.036 ± 0.145 km.
Discovered 1888 Oct 31 by J. Palisa at Vienna.
Named in honor of Lucretia Caroline Herschel (1750-1848), sister of the discoverer (1781) of Uranus, Sir William Herschel (1738-1822), whom she assisted, beginning in 1772. She independently discovered seven or eight comets. After her brother’s death, she returned from England to Hannover, Germany and constructed a catalogue of the nebulae and clusters discovered by him. She received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1828.

282 Clorinde
Main-belt Asteroid. Diameter 39.03 ± 1.0 km.
Discovered 1889 Jan 28 by A. Charlois at Nice.
Named probably after the heroine of the epic poem Jerusalem Delivered by the Italian writer Torquato Tasso (1544-1595).

288 Glauke
Main-belt Asteroid. Diameter 28.981 ± 0.571 km.
Discovered 1890 Feb 20 by R. Luther at Düsseldorf.
Named for the daughter of Creon, king of Corinth, whom Jason planned to marry. Glauke is also the name of one of the Danaides and of one of the Nereides.

Schmadel, Lutz D. 2012. Dictionary of Minor Planet Names. 6th ed. Berlin, Germany: Springer.

Solar System Dynamics. (Downloaded 17 Jun 2024). (Small-Body Database Lookup).

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