Giuseppe Piazzi, (born July 16, 1746, Ponte di Valtellina, Lombardy [Italy], Habsburg crown land—died July 22, 1826, Naples), Italian astronomer who discovered (January 1, 1801) and named the first asteroid, or “minor planet,” Ceres.
As a young man, Piazzi entered the Theatine Order in Milan. He completed his studies there and in Rome, obtaining the doctorate in philosophy and mathematics.
Guiseppe Piazzi is an Italian astronomer, mathematician and priest. Piazzi is famous for his “ Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo ” or “Palermo Astronomical Observatory” in Italy. Piazzi was born in the rural town of Ponte Valtellina, Italy on July 16, 1746. However, his childhood years are not revealed.
Jul 16, 2018 · Giuseppe Piazzi, an Italian astronomer, was born July 16, 1746. Piazzi presided over the observatory at Palermo on the island of Sicily, and on the first day of the new century, Jan. 1, 1801, Piazzi discovered a new heavenly body.
Astronomer, b. at Ponte in Valtellina, 16 July, 1746; d. at Naples, 22 July, 1826. He took the habit of the Theatines at Milan and finished his novitiate at the convent of San Antonio.
- The Gap Between Mars and Jupiter
- The Search For Ceres
- Further Observations
- The Dawn Spacecraft Visiting Ceres
Already in antiquity, five planets of the solar system visible to the human eye were known: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. In 1596, famous astronomer Johannes Kepler had noticed that there is a gap between Mars and Jupiter, and no other planet to fill in . The idea that a still undiscovered planet might exist between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter was suggested by German astronomer Johann Elert Bode in 1772 , whose considerations were based on the so-called Titius-Bode law, a now discredited hypothesis which had been first proposed by Johann Daniel Titius in 1766 , observing that there was a regular pattern in the semi-major axes of the orbits of known planets marred only by the large gap between Mars and Jupiter. The pattern predicted that the (still) missing planet ought to have an orbit with a semi-major axis near 2.8 AU (AU = Astronomical Units, 1 AU denotes the distance of the Earth from the Sun). Sir William Herschel‘s discovery of planet Uranus in 1781 [4...
One of the twenty-four astronomers selected for the search was Giuseppe Piazzi at the Academy of Palermo, Sicily. But already before receiving his invitation to join the group, Giuseppe Piazzi had discovered Ceres on 1 January 1801. While he was searching for “the 87th [star] of the Catalogue of the Zodiacal stars of Mr la Caille“, he found that “it was preceded by another“. Instead of a star, Piazzi had found a moving star-like object, which he first thought can only be a comet. Piazzi observed Ceres a total of 24 times, the final time on 11 February 1801, when illness interrupted his observations. He announced his discovery on 24 January 1801 in letters to only two fellow astronomers, in which he reported it as a comet but “since its movement is so slow and rather uniform, it has occurred to me several times that it might be something better than a comet“. In April 1801, Piazzi sent his complete observations to Bode and his colleagues in Paris. When published in September 1801, th...
Early observers were only able to calculate the size of Ceres to within about an order of magnitude. William Herschel underestimated its size as 260 km in 1802, while in 1811 Johann Hieronymus Schröter overestimated it as 2,613 km. Its real diameter in the geometric mean is 962 km. Piazzi originally suggested the name Cerere Ferdinandea for his newly discovered planetary object, after both the mythological figure Ceres (Roman goddess of agriculture) and King Ferdinand III of Sicily. “Ferdinandea” was not acceptable to other nations of the world and was thus dropped. The classification of Ceres has changed more than once and has been the subject of several arguments. Johann Elert Bode believed Ceres to be the “missing planet” he had proposed to exist between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres was assigned a planetary symbol, and remained listed as a planet in astronomy books and tables for about half a century. As other objects were discovered in the same area it was realized that Ceres represe...
Thus, in 1802 Sir William Herschel coined the term asteroid (“star-like”) for such bodies, writing “they resemble small stars so much as hardly to be distinguished from them, even by very good telescopes“. As the first such body to be discovered, it was given the designation 1 Ceres under the modern system of asteroid numbering. The 2006 debate surrounding Pluto and what constitutes a ‘planet’ led to Ceres being considered for reclassification and now is classified as a dwarf planet. Ceres is not classified as a planet because it does not dominate its orbit, sharing it with the thousands of other asteroids in the asteroid belt and constituting only about a third of the total mass. Nevertheless, Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt.
The NASA spacecraft Dawn reached Ceres on 6 March 2015. The primary mission consisted of mapping the surface from a high Ceres orbit and ended in July 2015. From July to December 2015, Dawn approached the secondary mission in several spiral steps up to 380 km. Observations with NASA’s Dawn spacecraft have shown that Ceres has the shape of a slightly flattened rotational ellipsoid with an equator diameter of 964 km and a polar diameter of 892 km. At the beginning of July 2016, NASA approved the financing of the follow-up mission for continued observation in order to obtain further information on the construction and development of Ceres. Ceres approached the perihelion it reached in April 2018 and gained new insights and discoveries through long-term observation. Dawn was steered into an elliptical orbit 200 km above the surface. This orbit retained the spacecraft and collected scientific data until all hydrazine reserves were depleted and then finally ceased operation on 1 November...
Piazzi was appointed a professor at the University of Palermo in 1780 and became the first director of the observatory at Palermo in 1791. In 1801 he discovered the first known asteroid —Ceres. He compiled two star catalogs (1803, 1814).
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