The Physics
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Number of Asteroids

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Bibliographic Entry Result
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Elkins-Tanton, Linda T. "Discovering the Asteroids". Asteroids, Meteorites, and Comets. The Solar System. New York. Chelsea HOuse. 2006. "By February 2005, there were 99,906 confirmed and numbered minor planets in total; 108,000 unnumbered objects with fairly well-determined orbits; and 68,000 unnumbered objects with poorly known orbits." 99,906
MPC Archive Statistics. IUA: Minor Planet Center. 1 June 2007. "The listing below shows the increase in the size of the orbital archive for minor planets. A grand total at the completion of each batch of Minor Planet Circulars is given (note that no minor-planet orbits are published when a mini-batch is prepared)."
Date of MPCs   Minor Planet Orbits Named Minor Planets
Total Numbered M-Opp 1-Opp
2007 JUNE 1 376,537 159,366 146,110 71,061 13,805
2007 MAY 2 374,256 157,788 145,158 71,310 13,722
(June 2007)
Tatum, Jeremy. Tracking Asteroids. The Planetary Report. June 1988. "Some 20,000 asteroids have at least rough orbits." > 20,000
Crystal, Ellie. Asteroids - Crystalinks. Ellie's Crystal's Metaphysical and Science Website. 2006 "As of April 14, 2006, from a total of 330,795 registered minor planets, 129,436 have orbits known well enough to be given permanent official numbers." 330,795

Outer space is full of mystery, but there are several things that we are touching the rim of, one of them being asteroids. Asteroids are rocky bodies that are smaller than that or a planet (1000 km) and larger than that of 10 cm that orbits the sun. Because of this asteroids are often referred to as minor planets or planetoids. You might wonder, what's the difference between that and a comet? Comets are icy bodies (not fiery) that leaves gassy trails, while asteroids are rocks that orbit the sun.

In the 1770’s Johann Daniel Titius, was studying the distance between planets and notice a strange occurrence. All the planets up to Mars had followed the pattern that each planet was about 1.5 times further out than the previous planet. But between Mars and Jupiter, the pattern broke. Sought to discover the missing planets, scientists begin to scout the solar system and found our first asteroid in 1801, Ceres. It wasn't until the discoveries of another 3 asteroids (2 Pallas, 1802; 3 Juno, 1804; 4 Vesta, 1807) that scientists realized that they've discovered something other than planets.

After discovering and 4 Vesta there was a stoppage in the findings of asteroids until 1845. But since then discoveries had grown in huge amounts. In 1857, 50 were discovered, by 1900, 463 were discovered, and by present day roughly 376,537 have been discovered. Out of the 376,537 asteroids, 159,366 have orbits well known enough to have numbers but only 13,805 have names.

A few notable asteroids are:

  1. Ceres: largest and first asteroid discovered
  2. Pallas: second largest and discovered asteroid
  3. Juno: tenth largest asteroid, third discovered, also first asteroid where an occultation was observed (1958)
  4. Vesta: third largest asteroid, 4th one to be discovered.
  5. Stanshapiro (Stan Shapiro): Midwood High School teacher, retired
  6. Shayestorm (Shaye Storm): Midwood High School graduate, Intel Science Talent Search finalist
  7. Alanstack (Alan Stack): Midwood High School teacher
  8. Elizkolod (Elizabeth Kolod): Midwood High School graduate, Intel Science Talent Search finalist
  9. Pikovskaya (Olga Pikovskaya): Midwood High School graduate, Intel Science Talent Search finalist
  10. Pluto: You know the story.

Jason Lu -- 2007