1647 Menelaus

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1647 Menelaus
Discovery [1]
Discovered by S. B. Nicholson
Discovery site Mount Wilson Obs.
Discovery date 23 June 1957
MPC designation (1647) Menelaus
Pronunciation /mɛnəˈləs/ men-ə-LAY-əs
Named after
Menelaus (Greek mythology)[2]
1957 MK
Jupiter trojan[1]
(Greek camp)[3]
Orbital characteristics[1]
Epoch 4 September 2017 (JD 2458000.5)
Uncertainty parameter 0
Observation arc 65.57 yr (23,949 days)
Aphelion 5.3270 AU
Perihelion 5.1002 AU
5.2136 AU
Eccentricity 0.0217
11.90 yr (4,348 days)
0° 4m 58.08s / day
Inclination 5.6508°
Jupiter MOID 0.1572 AU
TJupiter 2.9900
Physical characteristics
Dimensions 42.23 km (calculated)[4]
42.716±0.517 km[5]
17.7390±0.0198 h (R)[6]
17.74±0.01 h[7]
0.057 (assumed)[4]
10.451±0.004 (R)[6] · 10.6[1][4] · 10.72±0.21[8]

1647 Menelaus (/mɛnəˈləs/ men-ə-LAY-əs), provisional designation 1957 MK, is a carbonaceous Jupiter trojan from the Greek camp, approximately 42 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered on 23 June 1957, by American astronomer Seth Nicholson at Mount Wilson Observatory in California, United States,[9] it is named after Menelaus from Greek mythology.[2]

Orbit and classification[edit]

Menelaus is a C-type asteroid, that orbits in the leading Greek camp at Jupiter's L4 Lagrangian point, 60° ahead of its orbit (see Trojans in astronomy). It orbits the Sun at a distance of 5.1–5.3 AU once every 11 years and 11 months (4,348 days). Its orbit has an eccentricity of 0.02 and an inclination of 6° with respect to the ecliptic.[1] Menelaus was first imaged at Palomar Observatory in 1951. This precovery extends the body's observation arc by 6 years prior to its official discovery observation at Mount Wilson.[9]

It is the namesake and the largest member of the Menelaus family, one of very few asteroid families proposed to exists among the Jupiter trojan,[10] although it has only 8 members, it is the largest Trojan family.[11] Besides Menelaus, five other Trojan clusters or potential families are clustered around 1437 Diomedes, 1583 Antilochus, 2456 Palamedes, 2797 Teucer and (4035) 1986 WD.[10]:79

Since the discovery of the first Jupiter trojan, 588 Achilles, by astronomer Max Wolf in 1906, more than 6,500 Jovian asteroids have already been discovered (including unnumbered Trojans).[3]

Physical characteristics[edit]

Rotation period[edit]

The Palomar Transient Factory in California obtained a rotational lightcurve of Menelaus from photometric observation taken in October 2010. It gave a rotation period of 17.7390 hours with a brightness variation of 0.32 magnitude in the R-band (U=2).[6] In February 2014, a concurring period of 17.74 hours with an amplitude of 0.15 magnitude was obtained by American astronomer Robert D. Stephens at the Center for Solar System Studies (U=3-).[7]

Diameter and albedo[edit]

According to the survey carried out by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer with its subsequent NEOWISE mission, Menelaus measures 42.72 kilometers in diameter and its surface has an albedo of 0.056.[5] The Collaborative Asteroid Lightcurve Link assumes a standard albedo for carbonaceous asteroids of 0.057 and calculates a diameter of 42.23 kilometers using an absolute magnitude of 10.6.[4]


This minor planet was named after the Greek mythological figure, Menelaus, husband of Helen of Troy, brother of Agamemnon, and king and leader of the Spartan contingent of the Greek army during the Trojan War. The discoverer followed the convention to name bodies located in the camp to the east of Jupiter after famous Greek heroes.

The Dictionary of Minor Planet Names also mentions that the lunar crater Menelaus was named after the Greek hero.[2] However, based on the official International Astronomical Union–WGPSN nomenclature, it is named after Greek geometer and astronomer Menelaus of Alexandria (70–140),[12] the approved naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center before November 1977 (M.P.C. 2019).[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 1647 Menelaus (1957 MK)" (2017-06-03 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c Schmadel, Lutz D. (2007). "(1647) Menelaus". Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (1647) Menelaus. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 131. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-29925-7_1648. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3. Retrieved 27 December 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "List of Jupiter Trojans". Minor Planet Center. 20 June 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "LCDB Data for (1647) Menelaus". Asteroid Lightcurve Database (LCDB). Retrieved 27 December 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c Grav, T.; Mainzer, A. K.; Bauer, J. M.; Masiero, J. R.; Nugent, C. R. (November 2012). "WISE/NEOWISE Observations of the Jovian Trojan Population: Taxonomy". The Astrophysical Journal. 759 (1): 10. arXiv:1209.1549Freely accessible. Bibcode:2012ApJ...759...49G. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/759/1/49. Retrieved 27 December 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c Waszczak, Adam; Chang, Chan-Kao; Ofek, Eran O.; Laher, Russ; Masci, Frank; Levitan, David; et al. (September 2015). "Asteroid Light Curves from the Palomar Transient Factory Survey: Rotation Periods and Phase Functions from Sparse Photometry". The Astronomical Journal. 150 (3): 35. arXiv:1504.04041Freely accessible. Bibcode:2015AJ....150...75W. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/150/3/75. Retrieved 27 December 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Stephens, Robert D.; Coley, Daniel R.; Warner, Brian D.; French, Linda, M. (October 2016). "Lightcurves of Jovian Trojan Asteroids from the Center for Solar System Studies: L4 Greek Camp and Spies". The Minor Planet Bulletin. 43 (4): 323–331. Bibcode:2016MPBu...43..323S. ISSN 1052-8091. Retrieved 27 December 2016. 
  8. ^ Veres, Peter; Jedicke, Robert; Fitzsimmons, Alan; Denneau, Larry; Granvik, Mikael; Bolin, Bryce; et al. (November 2015). "Absolute magnitudes and slope parameters for 250,000 asteroids observed by Pan-STARRS PS1 - Preliminary results". Icarus. 261: 34–47. arXiv:1506.00762Freely accessible. Bibcode:2015Icar..261...34V. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2015.08.007. Retrieved 27 December 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "1647 Menelaus (1957 MK)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 27 December 2016. 
  10. ^ a b Milani, Andrea (October 1993). "The Trojan asteroid belt: Proper elements, stability, chaos and families". Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy. 57: 59–94(CeMDAHomepage). Bibcode:1993CeMDA..57...59M. doi:10.1007/BF00692462. ISSN 0923-2958. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  11. ^ Jewitt, David C.; Sheppard, Scott; Porco, Carolyn (2004). "Jupiter's Outer Satellites and Trojans – 12.4.2 Families". In Bagenal, F.; Dowling, T.E.; McKinnon, W.B. Jupiter: The planet, Satellites and Magnetosphere (pdf). Cambridge University Press. p. 12. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  12. ^ "Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature – Planetary Names: Crater, craters: Menelaus on Moon". International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN). Retrieved 27 December 2016. 
  13. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 27 December 2016. 

External links[edit]