Monday, January 7, 2008

Here Comes the Sun

22 years ago (January 7, 1976) Eleanor "Glo" Helin discovered asteroid 2062 Aten with the Palomar 18-inch Schmidt.

Aten was the first asteroid found that orbits almost entirely inside Earth’s orbit. As such Aten defined a new class of asteroids. Its semi-major axis (roughly the average distance from the Sun) is smaller than Earth's. In mythology Aten is the Egyptian god of the Sun.

Astronomers made radar measurements with the Goldstone antenna in 1995 to determine its diameter (0.9 km) and found that Aten has an unusually long period of rotation - nearly 41 hours.


Edward said...

Very interesting...

From the title of this post "Here Comes the Sun" and the fact that the graphic shows the orbit intersecting with that of my favorite planet in our solar system, the Earth. I am hoping that it is on a different orbital plain. Have they determined the chances of the sun god making a visit to our planet any time soon? I am assuming that the answer is that it will not come close any time soon, but I had to ask.

Thanks for indulging me


Scott Kardel said...

Aten's orbit is inclined almost 19 degrees. It has a Minimum Orbital Intersection Distance with our orbit of 0.1134 Astronomical Units.
That's around 10.5 million miles.

BretSMK-F said...

can you tell me what approximate date your layout is placed on? I'm configuring a model of orbital patterns and I can accurately place Aten in my solar system if you know the date this picture is percieved... Thank you, please post back on

Scott Kardel said...

You can track Aten here:;orb=1;cov=0;log=0;cad=0#orb