Giuseppe Piazzi

The Asteroids


“Life begins when you get out of the grandstand into the game.”—P. L. Debevoise The first asteroid was discovered on January 1, 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi in Italy. He thought he saw a new comet. Pi­azzi named the object Ceres, after the Roman goddess of agriculture. Over the next few years three similar “goddess­es” were located, which were named Pallas, Vesta and Juno. By the close of the 19th century several hundred of these small bodies had been identified. They are called asteroids, which means…

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Ceres: Goddess of the Asteroid Belt


In January 1, 1801, Giuseppe Piazzi pointed his telescope in the direction of the rocky objects that orbit the Sun be­tween Mars and Jupiter and discovered what he thought was a new comet. Piazzi named the object Ceres, after the Si­cilian goddess of grain, and Ceres became a planet for 50 years. Three other objects were discovered in the next few years: Pallas, Vesta, and Juno, which were also considered to be planets. Later, William Herschel, discoverer of Ura­nus, argued that they were too small…

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