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169 Zelia is a main belt asteroid that was discovered by the brothers Paul Henry and Prosper Henry on September 28, 1876. Credit for this discovery was given to Prosper. It is named after a niece of the astronomer Camille Flammarion.<ref name="Schmadel2012"/> Initial orbital elements for this asteroid were published in 1877 by American astronomer H. A. Howe.<ref name="Howe1877"/>

Based upon its spectrum, this body is classified as a rare O-type asteroid in the taxonomic system of Bus & Binzel.<ref name="Mainzer2012"/> Photometric observations of this asteroid during 2009 gave a light curve with a period of 14.537 ± 0.001 hours and a brightness variation of 0.14 ± 0.03 in magnitude.<ref name="StephensPilcher2009"/>


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