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The following is a collection of lists of noteworthy asteroids in the Solar system, sometimes also including minor planets beyond the orbit of Jupiter. For a more complete list of asteroids in sequential numerical order, see List of asteroids.

Note: each asteroid is given a unique sequential identifying number after its orbit is precisely determined. Prior to this, asteroids are known only by their systematic name or provisional designation, such as "1950 DA".

Largest known asteroids (out to the orbit of Jupiter)

Estimating the sizes of asteroids from observations is difficult for the great variability of the reflectivity of their surfaces. F.e. pure C-type asteroids are much darker than most.

Name Diameter (km)
(geometric mean)
Dimensions (km) Mean Distance
from Sun (in AU)
Date Discovered Discoverer Class
Ceres 952 975×909 2.766 January 1 1801 Piazzi, G. G
2 Pallas 531 570×525×500 2.773 March 28 1802 Olbers, H. W. B
4 Vesta 529 578×560×458 2.361 March 29 1807 Olbers, H. W. V
10 Hygiea 407 500×385×350 3.137 April 12 1849 de Gasparis, A. C
511 Davida 326 3.170 May 30 1903 Dugan, R. S. C
704 Interamnia 317 3.067 October 2 1910 Cerulli, V. F
52 Europa 301 360×315×240 3.101 February 4 1858 Goldschmidt, H. C
87 Sylvia 286 385×265×230 3.490 May 16 1866 Norman Robert Pogson X
624 Hektor 269 370×195 5.203 February 10 1907 Kopff, A. D
31 Euphrosyne 256 3.148 September 1 1854 Ferguson, J. C
15 Eunomia 255 330×245×205 2.646 July 29 1851 de Gasparis, A. S
65 Cybele 237 3.437 March 8 1861 Tempel, E. W. C
3 Juno 236 290×240×190 2.668 September 1 1804 Harding, K. L. S
16 Psyche 230 280×230×190 2.919 March 17 1852 de Gasparis, A. M
324 Bamberga 229 2.682 February 25 1892 Palisa, J. C
24 Themis 228 3.129 April 5 1853 de Gasparis, A. C
107 Camilla 215 285×205×170 3.479 November 17 1868 Pogson, N. R. C
45 Eugenia 213 305×220×145 2.720 June 27 1857 Goldschmidt, H. F
9 Metis 186 235×195×140 2.387 April 25 1848 Graham, A. S
121 Hermione 158 254×125 3.439 May 12 1872 Watson, J. C. C

The number of bodies grows rapidly as the size decreases. For example, there are estimated to be another twelve asteroids with diameters between 200 and 224 km.

The inner main belt (defined as the region interior to the 3:1 Kirkwood gap at 2.50 AU) has few large asteroids. Only 4 Vesta and 9 Metis qualify for the above list.

Note Ceres is also classified as a dwarf planet.

For a listing by mass see here.

Brightest asteroids (from Earth)

Although only Vesta ever attains a brightness sufficient to be visible to the naked eye, the following asteroids can all reach a magnitude higher or equal to the maximum 8.3 attained by Saturn's moon Titan, which was, owing to its closeness to easily visible Saturn, discovered 145 years before the first asteroid was found.

It is noteworthy that none of the asteroids in the outer part of the asteroid belt can ever attain this brightness. Even Hygiea and Interamnia rarely reach magnitudes of above 10.0. This is due to the different distribution of spectral types within different sections of the asteroid belt being such that the highest-albedo asteroids are all concentrated closer to Mars, and much lower albedo C and D types being common in the outer belt.

Those asteroids with very high eccentricities will only reach their maximum magnitude on unusual occasions when their perihelion is very close to a heliocentric conjunction with Earth.

Asteroid Maximum opposition
magnitude
Mean Distance
from Sun (in AU)
Eccentricity of orbit
4 Vesta 5.1 2.361 0.089172
2 Pallas 6.4 2.773 0.230725
Ceres 6.7 2.766 0.079905
7 Iris 6.7 2.385 0.231422
433 Eros 6.8 1.458 0.222725
6 Hebe 7.5 2.425 0.201726
3 Juno 7.5 2.668 0.258194
18 Melpomene 7.5 2.296 0.218708
15 Eunomia 7.9 2.643 0.187181
8 Flora 7.9 2.202 0.156207
324 Bamberga 8.0 2.682 0.338252
1036 Ganymed 8.1 2.6657 0.533710
9 Metis 8.1 2.387 0.121441
192 Nausikaa 8.2 2.404 0.246216
20 Massalia 8.3 2.409 0.142880

Retrograde and high-inclination asteroids and damocloids

Asteroids with orbital inclinations greater than 90° orbit in a retrograde direction. There are only eight (as of August 2004) retrograde asteroids known, only two of which are numbered. This makes them the rarest group of all. High-inclination asteroids are either Mars-crossers (probably in the process of being ejected from the solar system) or damocloids.

Retrograde
Name Inclination Discovery date Comment
20461 Dioretsa 160.400° June 8, 1999 This outer-planet crosser is a damocloid and scattered disk object (SDO); 2000 HE46 may have split off from Dioretsa.
1999 LE31 151.867° June 12, 1999 A damocloid, SDO, Jupiter- and Saturn-crosser asteroid.
2000 DG8 129.381° February 25, 2000 A damocloid and SDO. Crosses all the outer planets except Neptune.
2000 HE46 158.459° April 29, 2000 This outer-planet crosser is a damocloid and SDO. May be a fragment of 20461 Dioretsa.
(65407) 2002 RP120 119.112° September 4, 2002 This outer-planet crosser is a damocloid and SDO.
2004 NN8 165.377° July 13, 2004 This outer-planet crosser could even be on a path headed out of the Solar System (eccentricity ~0.9875).
High-inclination
Name Inclination Discovery date Comment
(5496) 1973 NA 67.999° July 4, 1973 A Mars-crosser and Near-Earth object.
2001 AU43 72.132° January 4, 2001 A Mars-crosser and Near-Earth object.
2002 XU93 77.904° December 4, 2002 A damocloid and SDO. It is almost an Uranus outer-grazer.
2003 EH1 70.790° March 6, 2003 A Mars-crosser, Near-Earth object and Jupiter inner-grazer.
2004 LG 70.725° June 9, 2004 A Mercury- through Mars-crosser and Near-Earth object.

Some other noteworthy asteroids (within the orbit of Jupiter)

Name Diameter (km) Discovered Comment
5 Astraea 117 December 8, 1845 First asteroid discovered 38 years after original four
61 Danaë 82 September 9, 1860 First asteroid to have a non-ASCII name
62 Erato 95 September 14, 1860 First asteroid to be co-discovered by two people
85 Io 155 September 19, 1865 Asteroid with the shortest name (two characters, plus a two-digit number) (runners up: 954 Li, 1714 Sy, 2705 Wu, 3271 Ul, 6498 Ko, and 22260 Ur)
87 Sylvia 261 May 16, 1866 First asteroid known to have more than one moon
90 Antiope 80×80 October 1, 1866 Double asteroid with two nearly equal components; its double nature was discovered using adaptive optics
92 Undina 126 1867 July 7 Created in one of the largest asteroid-on-asteroid collisions of the past 100 million years
139 Juewa 162 October 10, 1874 First asteroid discovered in China, by James Craig Watson. The name was chosen by Chinese officials: 瑞華, or in modern pinyin, ruìhuá
216 Kleopatra 217×94 April 10, 1880 Metallic asteroid with "dog-bone" shape
243 Ida 56×24×21 September 29, 1884 First confirmed binary asteroid
(243) Ida I Dactyl 1.4 February 17, 1994 Moon of 243 Ida, first confirmed satellite of an asteroid
288 Glauke 32 February 20, 1890 Exceptionally slow rotation period of about 1200 hours (2 months)
323 Brucia 36 December 22, 1891 First asteroid discovered by means of astrophotography rather than visual observation
333 Badenia 78 August 22, 1892 First asteroid to first receive a provisional designation (1892A)
433 Eros 13×13×33 August 13, 1898 First near-Earth asteroid discovered and the second largest
490 Veritas 115 1902 September 3 Created in one of the largest asteroid-on-asteroid collisions of the past 100 million years
624 Hektor 370×195 February 10, 1907 Largest Jovian Trojan asteroid discovered
719 Albert 2.4 October 3, 1911 Last numbered asteroid to be lost then recovered
944 Hidalgo 20 October 31, 1920 Longest orbital period of any asteroid in the main asteroid belt
1125 China   October 30, 1957 First asteroid discovery to be credited to an institution rather than a person
1566 Icarus 1.4 June 27, 1949 Apollo class asteroid; perihelion is closer to the Sun than Mercury
1743 Schmidt 17 September 24, 1960 First asteroid to be co-discovered by three people
2063 Bacchus 1.1×1.1×2.6 April 24, 1977  
3200 Phaethon 5 October 11, 1983 First asteroid discovered from space; source of Geminids meteor shower.
3753 Cruithne 5 October 10, 1986 Unusual Earth-associated orbit
4015 Wilson-Harrington   November 19, 1949 Longest-named asteroid (17 characters)
4090 Říšehvězd   September 2, 1986 Name with the most diacritics (four)
4179 Toutatis 4.5×2.4×1.9 January 4, 1989 Closely approached Earth on September 29th, 2004
4769 Castalia 1.8×0.8 August 9, 1989 First asteroid to be imaged
5261 Eureka ~2–4 June 20, 1990 First Martian Trojan asteroid (L5 point) discovered
(not yet officially recognized as such)
(11885) 1990 SS   September 25, 1990 First automated discovery of a Near-Earth Object (NEO)
(29075) 1950 DA 1.1 February 23, 1950 Will approach Earth very closely in 2880
99942 Apophis 0.3 June 19, 2004 First asteroid to rank greater than one on the Torino Scale (it was ranked at 2, then 4; now down to 0). Previously better known by its provisional designation 2004 MN4.
1997 XR2 0.23 1997 First asteroid to rank greater than zero on the impact-risk Torino Scale (it's ranked 1)
1998 KY26 0.030 June 2, 1998 Approached within 800,000 km of Earth
2002 AA29 0.1 January 9, 2002 Unusual Earth-associated orbit
2004 FH 0.030 2004 Discovered before it approached within 43,000 km of Earth on March 18, 2004.
2004 JG6 0.5–1 May 10, 2004 Six-month orbital period is second shortest, second only to Mercury

Spacecraft targets

Name Diameter (km) Discovered Spacecraft
1 Ceres 959×933 January 1, 1801 Target of the Dawn spacecraft
4 Vesta 468 March 29, 1807 Target of the Dawn spacecraft
21 Lutetia 120×100×80 November 15, 1852 Target of the Rosetta probe
140 Siwa 103 October 13, 1874 Abandoned target of the Rosetta probe
243 Ida 56×24×21 September 29, 1884 Visited by Galileo spacecraft - See also Dactyl (moon)
253 Mathilde 66×48×46 November 12, 1885 Visited by NEAR Shoemaker
433 Eros 13×13×33 August 13, 1898 First asteroid studied from orbit (NEAR Shoemaker, 2000-01)
951 Gaspra 18.2×10.5×8.9 July 30, 1916 First asteroid visited by spacecraft (Galileo, 1991)
1620 Geographos 5.1×1.8 September 14, 1951 Was the target of Clementine spacecraft
2530 Shipka   July 9, 1978 Abandoned target of the Rosetta probe
2685 Masursky 15-20 May 3, 1981 Distant observations by the Cassini spacecraft
2703 Rodari   March 29, 1979 Abandoned target of the Rosetta probe
2867 Šteins 4.6 November 4, 1969 Target of the Rosetta probe
3352 McAuliffe 2-5 February 6, 1981 Abandoned target of the Deep Space 1 probe
3840 Mimistrobell   October 9, 1980 Abandoned target of the Rosetta probe
4660 Nereus ~1 February 28, 1982 Target of the cancelled NEAP probe and abandoned target of the Hayabusa mission
4979 Otawara 5.5 August 2, 1949 Abandoned target of the Rosetta probe
5535 Annefrank 4.0 March 23, 1942 Target of the Stardust probe
9969 Braille 2.2×0.6 May 27, 1992 Target of the Deep Space 1 probe
25143 Itokawa ~1 September 26, 1998 Target of the Hayabusa sample return mission
2002 JF56 ~2.5 June 13, 2006 Visited by New Horizons probe

Minor planets with the same or similar names as moons

Main article: Name conflicts of solar system objects
Name Namesake Moon of
9 Metis Metis Jupiter
17 Thetis Tethys Saturn
24 Themis Themis Saturn (spurious)
38 Leda Leda Jupiter
52 Europa Europa Jupiter
53 Kalypso Calypso Saturn
55 Pandora Pandora Saturn
74 Galatea Galatea Neptune
85 Io Io Jupiter
101 Helena Helene Saturn
106 Dione Dione Saturn
113 Amalthea Amalthea Jupiter
171 Ophelia Ophelia Uranus
204 Kallisto Callisto Jupiter
218 Bianca Bianca Uranus
239 Adrastea Adrastea Jupiter
302 Clarissa Larissa Neptune
548 Kressida Cressida Uranus
558 Carmen Carme Jupiter
577 Rhea Rhea Saturn
593 Titania Titania Uranus
666 Desdemona Desdemona Uranus
900 Rosalinde Rosalind Uranus
1036 Ganymed Ganymede Jupiter
1162 Larissa Larissa Neptune
1285 Julietta Juliet Uranus
1809 Prometheus Prometheus Saturn
1810 Epimetheus Epimetheus Saturn
2758 Cordelia Cordelia Uranus
2060 Chiron Charon Pluto
3908 Nyx Nix Pluto
4450 Pan Pan Saturn
9313 Protea Proteus Neptune
21290 Vydra Hydra Pluto

Numbered minor planets that are also comets

Name Cometary name Comment
2060 Chiron 95P/Chiron Discovered in 1977 as the first Centaur, later found to display cometary behavior (including a coma)
4015 Wilson-Harrington 107P/Wilson-Harrington In 1992, it was realized that asteroid 1979VA's orbit matched it with the positions of the lost comet Wilson-Harrington (1949 III)
7968 Elst-Pizarro 133P/Elst-Pizarro Discovered in 1996 as a comet, but orbitally matched to asteroid 1979 OW7
60558 Echeclus 174P/Echeclus Second Centaur found to have a coma
118401 LINEAR 176P (1999 RE70) main-belt comet-asteroid discovered to have a coma on November 26, 2005

Note there are a quite a few other cases where a non-numbered asteroid with only a systematic designation (such as 2001 OG108) turned out to be a comet. The above table lists only numbered asteroids that are also comets.

Minor planets that were misnamed and renamed

In earlier times, before the modern numbering and naming rules were in effect, asteroids were sometimes given numbers and names before their orbits were precisely known. And in a few cases duplicate names were given to the same object (with modern use of computers to calculate and compare orbits with old recorded positions, this type of error no longer occurs). This led to a few cases where asteroids had to be renamed. [1]

  • 330 Adalberta
    • An object discovered March 18, 1892 by Max Wolf with provisional designation "1892 X" was named 330 Adalberta, but was lost and never recovered. In 1982 it was determined that the observations leading to the designation of 1892 X were stars, and the object never existed. The name and number 330 Adalberta was then reused for another asteroid discovered by Max Wolf on February 2, 1910, which had the provisional designation A910 CB.
  • 1125 China and 3789 Zhongguo
    • The object 1928 UF discovered October 25, 1928 by Zhang Yuzhe (Y. C. Chang) was named 1125 China, and was later lost. Later, the object 1957 UN1 was discovered on October 30, 1957 at Purple Mountain Observatory and was initially incorrectly believed to be the rediscovery of the object 1928 UF. The name and number 1125 China were then reused for the object 1957 UN1, and 1928 UF remained lost. In 1986, the object 1986 QK1 was discovered and proved to be the real rediscovery of 1928 UF. This object was given the new number and name 3789 Zhongguo. Note Zhongguo is the Mandarin Chinese word for "China", in pinyin transliteration.

Record-setting close approaches to Earth

Only asteroids or meteoroids that break a previous record are included. Note that near-earth object detection technology drastically improved around the turn of the century, so objects being detected as of 2004 would have been missed only a decade earlier. By some definitions, an asteroid must be at least 50 meters in diameter, accordingly the table lists objects smaller than this size separately.

Distance
(AU)
Distance
Mm
Size (m)
(approximate)
Date of
closest approach
Object
0.000043 6 Sea level
Objects below 50 m size (Meteoroids)
0.000086 13 6 2004 March 31 2004 FU162
0.00033 49 30 2004 March 18 2004 FH
0.00056 84 5 2003 September 27 2003 SQ222
0.00072 108 15 1994 December 9 1994 XM1
0.00099 148 5 1993 May 20 1993 KA2
0.00114 171 10 1991 January 18 1991 BA
0.00257 386 average distance to the Moon
Objects above 50 m size (Asteroids)
0.00289 432 500 2006 July 3 2004 XP14
0.00457 684 300 1989 March 22 4581 Asclepius
0.00495 741 300 & 300 1937 October 30 69230 Hermes

See also: Closest Approaches to the Earth by Minor Planets

Exceptionally slow-rotating objects

Rotation periods have been determined for only a small fraction of asteroids (from light curves or from radar studies). Most asteroids have rotation periods of less than 24 hours; however, 288 Glauke has a rotation period of about 50 days.

Name Rotation
period
(hours)
288 Glauke 1200
1220 Crocus 737
253 Mathilde 417.7
1998 QR52 234
3691 Bede 226.8
9969 Braille 226.4
(38071) 1999 GU3 216
(65407) 2002 RP120 200

See also: Minor Planet Lightcurve Parameters

See also

External links

Books

Dictionary of Minor Planet Names, 5th ed.: Prepared on Behalf of Commission 20 Under the Auspices of the International Astronomical Union, Lutz D. Schmadel, ISBN 3-540-00238-3

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