The dead sea in the asteroid belt

“I have called this star a comet, but since it is not accompanied by any nebulosity and, moreover, its movement is so slow and evenly, I have not once ever occur to you that she can be something better than a comet” — wrote in 1801, Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi his friend and colleague in Milan.

On the evening of the first day of that year, Piazzi was looking at the sky a star in the constellation Taurus for versatile Frenchman Nicolas Louis de Lacalle and found next to the desired star another one, which directories were not. After three days of observations, scientists came to the conclusion that the star moves (which is strange for a star), and after another two weeks noticed the direction of her movement in General has changed (which is typical only for bodies orbiting the Sun). Called, Piazzi discovered the body “Ceres Ferdinand”, outlined the essence of his discovery in several letters to colleagues, not accompanied by accurate data, and continued monitoring.

Astronomers realized that it is not the first year looking for in orbit between Mars and Jupiter a planet that predicted by the rule of Titius Bode. Especially for the detection of this planet in 1800 even created a group with the imposing title “Celestial police” (Himmelspolizey) in her invited 24 of the astronomer, including Italian, Piazzi, but he found Ceres before the invitation reached him.

By the summer of 1801, Piazzi finally, having secured all possible evidence that priority of discovery belongs to him exactly, have published their observations, which were confirmed by other astronomers, and by the end of the year the orbit of Ceres calculated , Carl Friedrich Gauss. Spaces into a coherent picture of the universe, derived for the 30 years before the discovery of Ceres, of the formula was eliminated. People lived on the third planet from the Sun, the first was mercury, the eighth Uranus, Ceres — the fifth.

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