::Minor planet designation

::concepts



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Formal minor planet designations are number–name combinations overseen by the Minor Planet Center, a branch of the IAU. They are used for dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies such as asteroids, but not comets. They are assigned to a body once its orbit is secured, and are unrelated to provisional designations, which are automatically assigned when an object is discovered.

The two parts of a formal designation are

  • a number, historically assigned in approximate order of discovery, now assigned only after the orbit has been secured by 4 well-observed oppositions,<ref name="HowNamed"/> coupled with
  • a name, either the name assigned by the discoverer, or, nowadays more commonly, the provisional designation.<ref>IAU FAQ page</ref>

The syntax is (number) Name, for example (90377) Sedna or (55636) 2002 TX300. The parentheses are now often dropped, as in 90377 Sedna, according to the preference of the astronomer or journal. In practice, however, for any reasonably well-known object the number is mostly a catalogue entry, and the name or provisional designation is generally used in place of the formal designation: Sedna, 2002 TX300.

For unusual objects, such as near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), numbering might occur after three, maybe even only two, oppositions.<ref name="HowNamed"/>

The convention for satellites of minor planets, such as the formal designation (87) Sylvia I Romulus for the asteroid moon Romulus, is an extension of the Roman numeral convention that had been used, on and off, for the moons of the planets since Galileo's time.

Comets are also managed by the Minor Planet Center, but use a different cataloguing system.


Minor planet designation sections
Intro  History  See also  References  External links  

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Planets::number    Minor::asteroid    Vesta::minor    Assigned::sedna    Formal::pluto    HowNamed::james

{{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}}

Formal minor planet designations are number–name combinations overseen by the Minor Planet Center, a branch of the IAU. They are used for dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies such as asteroids, but not comets. They are assigned to a body once its orbit is secured, and are unrelated to provisional designations, which are automatically assigned when an object is discovered.

The two parts of a formal designation are

  • a number, historically assigned in approximate order of discovery, now assigned only after the orbit has been secured by 4 well-observed oppositions,<ref name="HowNamed"/> coupled with
  • a name, either the name assigned by the discoverer, or, nowadays more commonly, the provisional designation.<ref>IAU FAQ page</ref>

The syntax is (number) Name, for example (90377) Sedna or (55636) 2002 TX300. The parentheses are now often dropped, as in 90377 Sedna, according to the preference of the astronomer or journal. In practice, however, for any reasonably well-known object the number is mostly a catalogue entry, and the name or provisional designation is generally used in place of the formal designation: Sedna, 2002 TX300.

For unusual objects, such as near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), numbering might occur after three, maybe even only two, oppositions.<ref name="HowNamed"/>

The convention for satellites of minor planets, such as the formal designation (87) Sylvia I Romulus for the asteroid moon Romulus, is an extension of the Roman numeral convention that had been used, on and off, for the moons of the planets since Galileo's time.

Comets are also managed by the Minor Planet Center, but use a different cataloguing system.


Minor planet designation sections
Intro  History  See also  References  External links  

PREVIOUS: IntroNEXT: History
<<>>