The Discovery of Ceres

In the early 1800s, Astronomers looked for a planet between Mars and Jupiter. A hypothesis called the Titus-Bode law proposed that there was a pattern in the distance of the planets and a body should exist in the region. Today this is seen as a mathematical coincidence and curiosity.

Back then, Giuseppe Piazzi observed an object he thought was at first a comet. Further observations confirmed it as a body orbiting between Mars and Jupiter but it was too small to be classified as a planet and so for years was considered a 'minor planet'. Piazzi had discovered the first asteroid.  

In the next few years a group known as the ‘Celestial Police’ found similar asteroids such as Vesta and Pallas. We know this area today as the ‘Asteroid belt’.

It is thought that a small planet once tried to form in the region but that Jupiter’s gravity prevented it from doing so.

 

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Ceres Nine Planets
Titus Bode Law Theory that led to discovery

Discovery Facts

- Guiseppe Piazzi
- 1801
- Telescope

Ceres Facts

Average Distance from the Sun

2.75AU

Orbital Period

4.6 years

Inclination to Ecliptic

10°

Average radius

487km