The Asteroid Belt: A Hundred Million Miles of Rock

The asteroid belt is the region of the Solar System located in between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter and marks the gateway to the outer solar system.  The Asteroid belt takes up a massive region of that space, roughly two and half times the distance from the Earth to the Sun.  It is a vast collection of rocks and ice left over from the formation of the Solar system however despite popular imagery the asteroid belt is mostly empty.  Yes there are billions possibly trillions  of asteroids in the belt but they are so small and spread over such a vast area that if you were to stand on one asteroid it would be extremely unlikely to see its neighbour.  The Asteroid belt contains relatively small sized asteroids, ranging from the size of boulders to a few thousand feet in diameter however there are a few inhabitants that are considerably larger.

Ceres: Ceres was discovered in on New Years day in 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi and was named after the goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. Ceres for a time referred to as a planet until 1851 when its asteroid term became more well established. In 2006 Cerces was again reclassified as a Dwarf Planet alongside Pluto and is today the is the closest dwarf planet to the sun.

Vesta: Vesta was discovered by the German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers on 29 March 1807 and was named for the  virgin goddess of home and hearth from Roman mythology. Vesta is the brightest asteroid in the Solar System and can been seen with the naked eye.

Ganymed: Ganymed is a large asteroid that should not be confused with Jupiters moon  “Ganymede”.  Ganymed was discovered October 23, 1924  by Walter Baade. Ganymed has a very well maped out orbit and its next close fly by of Earth will be on 13 October 2024 when the asteroid will only be 35(ish) million miles away.

Eros: Eros was discovered on the 13 August 1898 by Gustav Witt  and Auguste Charloisis and was named after the Greek god of love “Erōs”.  Eros is the first asteroid to be landed upon by a spacecraft, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission, which landed on the asteroid in 2000.

The asteroid belt is full of many fascinating andl interesting pockets of information however with such a vast amount of different asteroids, comets and proto-planets I will need to revisit this region of our solar system at another time in the future.  Below are a few links to the sites I gathered my information on but I would like to advise you to check out www.astronomycast.com and www.universetoday.com and  earthsky.org

Thanks To: theplanets.orgsolarsystem.nasa.gov, science.nationalgeographic.com,  universetoday.com,  space-facts.com,  astronomycast.com,  astronomyonline.org,  planetfacts.org earthsky.org

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