Asteroid discovery 1852 – Hermann Goldschmidt and the Rosetta asteroid

Asteroid Lutetia, photographed by the Rosetta probe, discovered by Hermann Goldschmidt. (ESA) (ESA)

Originally from Frankfurt am Main, Goldschmidt was not a professional astronomer, but he was enthusiastic about the sky. He mostly made his observations from the skylight of his apartment.

With 14 discoveries, Hermann Goldschmidt was for several years the most successful asteroid observer of all in the mid-19th century.

Breathtaking close-ups

The painter also captured numerous beautiful celestial phenomena such as solar eclipses and comets. But he saw his asteroids in telescopes only as points of light.

Now there are breathtaking close-ups of Lutetia: In 2010, the Rosetta spacecraft flew by at a distance of just over 3,000 kilometers and photographed the craters and mountains.


Der Asteroid Paris (ESA)

Experts combine this data with observations from Earth. The spectral properties of Lutetium’s surface have been shown to be similar to those of meteorites containing the mineral enstatite.

These bodies are thought to have formed quite close to the Sun and were once part of the raw material of Mercury, Venus and Earth. But Lutetia, about a hundred kilometers in diameter, did not merge with any of the clustering planets.

Instead, it was directed to a more distant orbit between Mars and Jupiter, where it still orbits the Sun today – and where it was discovered by Hermann Goldschmidt.

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