By Clifford Cunningham
Based on huge fundamental resources, many by no means formerly translated into English, this is often the definitive account of the origins of Ceres because it went from being categorized as a brand new planet to reclassification because the first of a formerly unknown staff of celestial gadgets. Cunningham opens this severe second of astronomical discovery to complete sleek research for the 1st time. This e-book comprises all of the voluminous correspondence, translated into English, among the astronomers of Europe in regards to the startling discovery of Ceres via Piazzi in 1801. It covers the interval as much as March 1802, at which period Pallas used to be came across. additionally incorporated are Piazzi’s monographs approximately Ceres, and the sections of 2 books facing Ceres, one by way of Johann Bode, the opposite by means of Johann Schroeter. The starting place of the be aware ‘asteroid’ is defined, in addition to a number of chapters at the antecedents of the tale going again to historical Greek occasions. The formula of Bode’s legislations is given, as are the main points at the efforts of Baron von Zach to arrange a look for the meant lacking planet among Mars and Jupiter. Examples of verse created to commemorate the good discovery are incorporated during this first quantity. the writer, who has a PhD within the background of Astronomy, is a committed student of the tale of asteroids and his learn at the discovery of Ceres is entire and entirely sourced. the invention got here at a time whilst rival astronomers have been in scorching pageant with one another, and while the real nature of those celestial our bodies was once no longer but identified. With astronomers in France, Italy and past vying to appreciate and obtain credits for the hot category of astral our bodies, drama was once now not briefly supply--nor have been clinical advances.
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Additional resources for Discovery of the First Asteroid, Ceres: Historical Studies in Asteroid Research
On the night of December 31 Zach took another look, but it was not until the early morning hours of January 1, 1802, that he was able to conclusively identify the elusive Ceres. Remarkably, this was exactly a year after it had been discovered. On January 13 he proudly told Méchain of his monumental find: “I am pleased to tell you that I discovered the new planet on Dec 7, 1801. I saw the planet again on Dec 31, then again on Jan 11, 1802. ” Zach deliberately kept his recovery of Ceres a secret until after January 11, to be certain he had actually found it.
His second major effort in 1798 was organizing the world’s ﬁrst astronomical congress, held in Gotha (Herrmann, 1970). In attendance that August were: Joseph-Jerome Lalande (1732–1807. ) Johann Elert Bode (1747–1826. ) Martinus van Marum (1750–1837. ) Johann Friedrich Wurm (1760–1833. ) Johannes Feer (1763–1823. ) Johann Kaspar Horner (1774–1834. ) Johann Konrad Schaubach (1764–1849. ) 20 1 The Unseen Planet Fig. 11 Seeberg Observatory, around 1810 “They all lodged at my place at Seeberg,” wrote Zach in a letter to Professor von Schedius on January 26, 1799.
The story was related to him by Piazzi’s assistant, Niccolò Cacciatore (1780–1841), with the moment of realization highlighted here in bold (Fig. 2): Most people are aware that the celebrated astronomer Piazzi discovered the small planet Ceres at Palermo in this very observatory, with an instrument of Ramsden’s which we had the satisfaction of seeing. It was made on the 1st of January, 1801, at which period the present astronomer, Cacciatore, was Piazzi’s assistant in the observatory of which he is now the chief.