The orbital eccentricity of an astronomical object is a parameter that determines the amount by which its orbit around another body deviates from a perfect circle. A value of 0 is a circular orbit, values between 0 and 1 form an elliptic orbit, 1 is a parabolic escape orbit, greater than 1 is a hyperbola; the term derives its name from the parameters of conic sections, as every Kepler orbit is a conic section. It is used for the isolated two-body problem, but extensions exist for objects following a Klemperer rosette orbit through the galaxy. In a two-body problem with inverse-square-law force, every orbit is a Kepler orbit; the eccentricity of this Kepler orbit is a non-negative number. The eccentricity may take the following values: circular orbit: e = 0 elliptic orbit: 0 < e < 1 parabolic trajectory: e = 1 hyperbolic trajectory: e > 1 The eccentricity e is given by e = 1 + 2 E L 2 m red α 2 where E is the total orbital energy, L is the angular momentum, mred is the reduced mass, α the coefficient of the inverse-square law central force such as gravity or electrostatics in classical physics: F = α r 2 or in the case of a gravitational force: e = 1 + 2 ε h 2 μ 2 where ε is the specific orbital energy, μ the standard gravitational parameter based on the total mass, h the specific relative angular momentum.
For values of e from 0 to 1 the orbit's shape is an elongated ellipse. The limit case between an ellipse and a hyperbola, when e equals 1, is parabola. Radial trajectories are classified as elliptic, parabolic, or hyperbolic based on the energy of the orbit, not the eccentricity. Radial orbits hence eccentricity equal to one. Keeping the energy constant and reducing the angular momentum, elliptic and hyperbolic orbits each tend to the corresponding type of radial trajectory while e tends to 1. For a repulsive force only the hyperbolic trajectory, including the radial version, is applicable. For elliptical orbits, a simple proof shows that arcsin yields the projection angle of a perfect circle to an ellipse of eccentricity e. For example, to view the eccentricity of the planet Mercury, one must calculate the inverse sine to find the projection angle of 11.86 degrees. Next, tilt any circular object by that angle and the apparent ellipse projected to your eye will be of that same eccentricity; the word "eccentricity" comes from Medieval Latin eccentricus, derived from Greek ἔκκεντρος ekkentros "out of the center", from ἐκ- ek-, "out of" + κέντρον kentron "center".
"Eccentric" first appeared in English in 1551, with the definition "a circle in which the earth, sun. Etc. deviates from its center". By five years in 1556, an adjectival form of the word had developed; the eccentricity of an orbit can be calculated from the orbital state vectors as the magnitude of the eccentricity vector: e = | e | where: e is the eccentricity vector. For elliptical orbits it can be calculated from the periapsis and apoapsis since rp = a and ra = a, where a is the semimajor axis. E = r a − r p r a + r p = 1 − 2 r a r p + 1 where: ra is the radius at apoapsis. Rp is the radius at periapsis; the eccentricity of an elliptical orbit can be used to obtain the ratio of the periapsis to the apoapsis: r p r a = 1 − e 1 + e For Earth, orbital eccentricity ≈ 0.0167, apoapsis= aphelion and periapsis= perihelion relative to sun. For Earth's annual orbit path, ra/rp ratio = longest_radius / shortest_radius ≈ 1.034 relative to center point of path. The eccentricity of the Earth's orbit is about 0.0167.
The ecliptic is the mean plane of the apparent path in the Earth's sky that the Sun follows over the course of one year. This plane of reference is coplanar with Earth's orbit around the Sun; the ecliptic is not noticeable from Earth's surface because the planet's rotation carries the observer through the daily cycles of sunrise and sunset, which obscure the Sun's apparent motion against the background of stars during the year. The motions as described above are simplifications. Due to the movement of Earth around the Earth–Moon center of mass, the apparent path of the Sun wobbles with a period of about one month. Due to further perturbations by the other planets of the Solar System, the Earth–Moon barycenter wobbles around a mean position in a complex fashion; the ecliptic is the apparent path of the Sun throughout the course of a year. Because Earth takes one year to orbit the Sun, the apparent position of the Sun takes one year to make a complete circuit of the ecliptic. With more than 365 days in one year, the Sun moves a little less than 1° eastward every day.
This small difference in the Sun's position against the stars causes any particular spot on Earth's surface to catch up with the Sun about four minutes each day than it would if Earth would not orbit. Again, this is a simplification, based on a hypothetical Earth that orbits at uniform speed around the Sun; the actual speed with which Earth orbits the Sun varies during the year, so the speed with which the Sun seems to move along the ecliptic varies. For example, the Sun is north of the celestial equator for about 185 days of each year, south of it for about 180 days; the variation of orbital speed accounts for part of the equation of time. Because Earth's rotational axis is not perpendicular to its orbital plane, Earth's equatorial plane is not coplanar with the ecliptic plane, but is inclined to it by an angle of about 23.4°, known as the obliquity of the ecliptic. If the equator is projected outward to the celestial sphere, forming the celestial equator, it crosses the ecliptic at two points known as the equinoxes.
The Sun, in its apparent motion along the ecliptic, crosses the celestial equator at these points, one from south to north, the other from north to south. The crossing from south to north is known as the vernal equinox known as the first point of Aries and the ascending node of the ecliptic on the celestial equator; the crossing from north to south is descending node. The orientation of Earth's axis and equator are not fixed in space, but rotate about the poles of the ecliptic with a period of about 26,000 years, a process known as lunisolar precession, as it is due to the gravitational effect of the Moon and Sun on Earth's equatorial bulge; the ecliptic itself is not fixed. The gravitational perturbations of the other bodies of the Solar System cause a much smaller motion of the plane of Earth's orbit, hence of the ecliptic, known as planetary precession; the combined action of these two motions is called general precession, changes the position of the equinoxes by about 50 arc seconds per year.
Once again, this is a simplification. Periodic motions of the Moon and apparent periodic motions of the Sun cause short-term small-amplitude periodic oscillations of Earth's axis, hence the celestial equator, known as nutation; this adds a periodic component to the position of the equinoxes. Obliquity of the ecliptic is the term used by astronomers for the inclination of Earth's equator with respect to the ecliptic, or of Earth's rotation axis to a perpendicular to the ecliptic, it is about 23.4° and is decreasing 0.013 degrees per hundred years due to planetary perturbations. The angular value of the obliquity is found by observation of the motions of Earth and other planets over many years. Astronomers produce new fundamental ephemerides as the accuracy of observation improves and as the understanding of the dynamics increases, from these ephemerides various astronomical values, including the obliquity, are derived; until 1983 the obliquity for any date was calculated from work of Newcomb, who analyzed positions of the planets until about 1895: ε = 23° 27′ 08″.26 − 46″.845 T − 0″.0059 T2 + 0″.00181 T3 where ε is the obliquity and T is tropical centuries from B1900.0 to the date in question.
From 1984, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's DE series of computer-generated ephemerides took over as the fundamental ephemeris of the Astronomical Almanac. Obliquity based on DE200, which analyzed observations from 1911 to 1979, was calculated: ε = 23° 26′ 21″.45 − 46″.815 T − 0″.0006 T2 + 0″.00181 T3 where hereafter T is Julian centuries from J2000.0. JPL's fundamental ephemerides have been continually updated; the Astronomical Almanac for 2010 specifies:ε = 23° 26′ 21″.406 − 46″.836769 T − 0″.0001831 T2 + 0″.00200340 T3 − 0″.576×10−6 T4 − 4″.34×10−8 T5 These expressions for the obliquity are intended for high precision over a short time span ± several centuries. J. Laskar computed an expression to order T10 good to 0″.04/1000 years over 10,000 years. All of these expressions are for the mean obliquity, that is, without the nutation of the equator included; the true or instantaneous obliquity includes the nutation. Most of the major bodies of the Solar System o
Lowell Observatory is an astronomical observatory in Flagstaff, United States. Lowell Observatory was established in 1894, placing it among the oldest observatories in the United States, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. In 2011, the Observatory was named one of "The World's 100 Most Important Places" by TIME, it was at the Lowell Observatory that the dwarf planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh. The observatory was founded by astronomer Percival Lowell of Boston's Lowell family and is overseen by a sole trustee, a position handed down through the family; the first trustee was Lowell's third cousin Guy Lowell. Percival's nephew Roger Putnam served from 1927 to 1967, followed by Roger's son Michael, Michael's brother William Lowell Putnam III, current trustee W. Lowell Putnam. Multiple astronauts attended the Lowell Observatory while the moon was being mapped for the Apollo Program; the training was in session in 1963. The observatory operates several telescopes at three locations in the Flagstaff area.
The main facility, located on Mars Hill just west of downtown Flagstaff, houses the original 61-centimeter Clark Refracting Telescope, now used for public education, with 85,000 annual visitors. The telescope, built in 1896 for $20,000, was assembled in Boston by Alvan Clark & Sons and shipped by train to Flagstaff. Located on the Mars Hill campus is the 33-centimeter Pluto Discovery Telescope, used by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 to discover the dwarf planet Pluto. In 2014, the 8,000 square foot Observatory was opened; this observatory included many rooms with tools that were useful to observers including a library for research, a room for processing, photographic glass plates, multiple antique instruments used by previous astronomers, many artifacts. The observatory does contain areas that are closed to the public view, although there are multiple places that tourists are welcome to visit. Lowell Observatory operates four research telescopes at its Anderson Mesa dark-sky site, located 20 km southeast of Flagstaff, including the 180-centimeter Perkins Telescope and the 110-centimeter John S. Hall Telescope.
Lowell is a partner with the United States Naval Observatory and Naval Research Laboratory in the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer located at that site. The Observatory operates smaller research telescopes at its historic site on Mars Hill and in Australia and Chile. Past Anderson Mesa, on the peak of Happy Jack, Lowell Observatory has built and is commissioning the 4.28-meter Discovery Channel Telescope in partnership with Discovery Communications, Inc. The observatory has carried out a wide array of research. One of its programs was the measurement of the variability of solar irradiance; when Harold L. Johnson took over as the director in 1952, the stated objective became to focus on light from the Sun reflecting from Uranus and Neptune. In 1953, the current 53 cm telescope was erected. Beginning in 1954, this telescope began monitoring the brightness of these two planets, comparing these measurements with a reference set of Sun-like stars. Beginning in 2012, Lowell Observatory began offering camps for children known as LOCKs.
The first camp was established for elementary students. On, in 2013, they added an additional camp program for preschool children; the following year they added another program for middle school students.. Kids have the opportunity to learn hands-on about science, technology and math through a variety of activities that include games, story time, art and more. In 2016, Kevin Schindler published Lowell Observatory, a 128 page book containing over 200 captions and pictures. Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America included it in their series, which increased the enthusiasm of space to the public; the book itself features the popular reputation of Lowell Observatory, encompassing the revolutionary research of scientists and how they contributed to the field of astronomy. Lowell Observatory is building a major new reflecting telescope in partnership with Discovery Communications, located near Happy Jack, Arizona; this Discovery Channel Telescope, located within the Mogollon Rim Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest, is expected to be the fifth-largest telescope in the contiguous United States, it will enable the astronomers of Lowell Observatory to enter new research areas deeper into outer space.
The DCT and the research carried out there will be the focus of ongoing informative and educational television programs about astronomy, the sciences, technology to be telecast on the Discovery channels. The primary mirror of the Discovery Channel Telescope will be 4.28 m in diameter, with an uncommon meniscus design for such a large mirror. This mirror was ground and polished into its parabolic shape at the Optical Fabrication and Engineering Facility of the College of Optical Sciences of the University of Arizona. Lowell Observatory's astronomers conduct research on a wide range of solar system and astrophysical topics using ground-based and space-based telescopes. Among the many current programs are a search for near-Earth asteroids, a survey of the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune, a search for extrasolar planets, a decades-long study of the brightness stability of the sun, a variety of investigations of star formation and other processes in distant galaxies. In addition, the Observatory staff designs and builds custom instrumentation for use on Lowell's telescopes and elsewhere.
For example, Lowell staff built a sophistic
An asteroid family is a population of asteroids that share similar proper orbital elements, such as semimajor axis and orbital inclination. The members of the families are thought to be fragments of past asteroid collisions. An asteroid family is a more specific term than asteroid group whose members, while sharing some broad orbital characteristics, may be otherwise unrelated to each other. Large prominent families contain several hundred recognized asteroids. Small, compact families may have only about ten identified members. About 33% to 35% of asteroids in the main belt are family members. There are about 20 to 30 reliably recognized families, with several tens of less certain groupings. Most asteroid families are found in the main asteroid belt, although several family-like groups such as the Pallas family, Hungaria family, the Phocaea family lie at smaller semi-major axis or larger inclination than the main belt. One family has been identified associated with the dwarf planet Haumea; some studies have tried to find evidence of collisional families among the trojan asteroids, but at present the evidence is inconclusive.
The families are thought to form as a result of collisions between asteroids. In many or most cases the parent body was shattered, but there are several families which resulted from a large cratering event which did not disrupt the parent body; such cratering families consist of a single large body and a swarm of asteroids that are much smaller. Some families have complex internal structures which are not satisfactorily explained at the moment, but may be due to several collisions in the same region at different times. Due to the method of origin, all the members have matching compositions for most families. Notable exceptions are those families. Asteroid families are thought to have lifetimes of the order of a billion years, depending on various factors; this is shorter than the Solar System's age, so few if any are relics of the early Solar System. Decay of families occurs both because of slow dissipation of the orbits due to perturbations from Jupiter or other large bodies, because of collisions between asteroids which grind them down to small bodies.
Such small asteroids become subject to perturbations such as the Yarkovsky effect that can push them towards orbital resonances with Jupiter over time. Once there, they are rapidly ejected from the asteroid belt. Tentative age estimates have been obtained for some families, ranging from hundreds of millions of years to less than several million years as for the compact Karin family. Old families are thought to contain few small members, this is the basis of the age determinations, it is supposed that many old families have lost all the smaller and medium-sized members, leaving only a few of the largest intact. A suggested example of such old family remains are 113 Amalthea pair. Further evidence for a large number of past families comes from analysis of chemical ratios in iron meteorites; these show that there must have once been at least 50 to 100 parent bodies large enough to be differentiated, that have since been shattered to expose their cores and produce the actual meteorites. When the orbital elements of main belt asteroids are plotted, a number of distinct concentrations are seen against the rather uniform distribution of non-family background asteroids.
These concentrations are the asteroid families. Interlopers are asteroids classified as family members based on their so-called proper orbital elements but having spectroscopic properties distinct from the bulk of the family, suggesting that they, contrary to the true family members, did not originate from the same parent body that once fragmented upon a collisional impact. Speaking and their membership are identified by analysing the proper orbital elements rather than the current osculating orbital elements, which fluctuate on timescales of tens of thousands of years; the proper elements are related constants of motion that remain constant for times of at least tens of millions of years, longer. The Japanese astronomer Kiyotsugu Hirayama pioneered the estimation of proper elements for asteroids, first identified several of the most prominent families in 1918. In his honor, asteroid families are sometimes called Hirayama families; this applies to the five prominent groupings discovered by him.
Present day computer-assisted searches have identified more than a hundred asteroid families. The most prominent algorithms have been the hierarchical clustering method, which looks for groupings with small nearest-neighbour distances in orbital element space, wavelet analysis, which builds a density-of-asteroids map in orbital element space, looks for density peaks; the boundaries of the families are somewhat vague because at the edges they blend into the background density of asteroids in the main belt. For this reason the number of members among discovered asteroids is only known and membership is uncertain for asteroids near the edges. Additionally, some interlopers from the heterogeneous background asteroid population are expected in the central regions of a family. Since the true family members caused by the collision are expected to have similar compositions, most such interlopers can in principle be recognised by spectral properties which do not matc
Palomar Observatory is an astronomical observatory located in San Diego County, United States, 145 kilometers southeast of Los Angeles, California, in the Palomar Mountain Range. It is operated by the California Institute of Technology located in Pasadena, California. Research time is granted to Caltech and its research partners, which include the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Cornell University; the observatory operates several telescopes, including the 200-inch Hale Telescope and the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope. In addition, other instruments and projects have been hosted at the observatory, such as the Palomar Testbed Interferometer and the historic 18-inch Schmidt telescope, Palomar Observatory's first telescope, dating from 1936. Astronomer George Ellery Hale, whose vision created the Palomar Observatory, built the world's largest telescope four times, he published an article, to become the 200-inch Palomar reflector. Hale hoped that the American people would understand and support his project though the country was in the depths of the Great Depression.
Hale followed this article with a letter to the International Education Board of the Rockefeller Foundation dated April 16, 1928 in which he requested funding for this project. In his letter, Hale stated: "No method of advancing science is so productive as the development of new and more powerful instruments and methods of research. A larger telescope would not only furnish the necessary gain in light space-penetration and photographic resolving power, but permit the application of ideas and devices derived chiefly from the recent fundamental advances in physics and chemistry." The 200-inch telescope is named after project manager George Hale. It was built by Caltech with a $6 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, using a Pyrex blank manufactured by Corning Glass Works under the direction of George McCauley after several years of unsuccessful attempts by General Electric under Dr. A. L. Ellis; the first steps toward funding the construction of the 200 inch telescope were taken by Hale in 1928 and included a 23-ton glass block cast by José Antonio de Artigas Sanz.
Dr. J. A. Anderson was the initial project manager assigned in the early 1940s; the telescope saw first light January 26, 1949 targeting NGC 2261. The American astronomer Edwin Powell Hubble was the first astronomer to use the telescope; the 200-inch telescope was the largest telescope in the world from 1949 until 1975, when the Russian BTA-6 telescope saw first light. Astronomers using the Hale Telescope have discovered distant objects at the edges of the known universe called quasars and have given us the first direct evidence of stars in distant galaxies, they have studied the structure and chemistry of intergalactic clouds, leading to an understanding of the synthesis of elements in the universe, have discovered thousands of asteroids. A one-tenth-scale engineering model of the telescope at Corning Community College in Corning, New York, home of the Corning Glass Works was used to discover at least one minor planet, 34419 Corning.† According to the Observatory's Public Affairs Office, Russell W. Porter was responsible for the Art Deco architecture of the Observatory's buildings, including the dome of the 200-inch Hale Telescope.
Porter was responsible for much of the technical design of the Hale Telescope and Schmidt Cameras, producing a series of cross-section engineering drawings. Porter worked on the designs in collaboration with Caltech committee members. Max Mason directed Theodore von Karman was involved in the engineering. Ira Sprague Bowen, 1948–1964 Horace Welcome Babcock, 1964–1978 Maarten Schmidt, 1978–1980 Gerry Neugebauer, 1980–1994 James Westphal, 1994–1997 Wallace Leslie William Sargent, 1997–2000 Richard Ellis, 2000–2006 Shrinivas Kulkarni, 2006–2018 Jonas Zmuidzinas, 2018– Much of the surrounding region of Southern California has adopted shielded lighting to reduce the light pollution that would affect the observatory; the 200-inch Hale Telescope was first proposed in 1928 and has been operational since 1948. It was the largest telescope in the world for 45 years. A 60-inch reflecting telescope is located in the Oscar Mayer Building, it was dedicated in 1970 to take some of the load off of the Hale Telescope.
This telescope was used to discover the first brown dwarf star. The 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope was started in 1938 and installed in 1948, it was called the 48-inch Schmidt, was dedicated to Samuel Oschin in 1986. The dwarf planet Eris was discovered using this instrument; the existence of Eris triggered the discussions in the international astronomy community that led to Pluto being re-classified as a dwarf planet. An 18-inch Schmidt camera became the first operational telescope at the Palomar in 1936. In the 1930s, Fritz Zwicky, a Caltech astronomer, discovered over 100 supernovae in other galaxies with this telescope and gathered the first evidence for dark matter. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was discovered with this instrument in 1993, it is on display at the small museum/visitor center. The Palomar Testbed Interferometer was a multi-telescope instrument that permitted astronomers to make high resolution measurements of the sizes and positions of objects in space; the shapes of some bright stars have been measured with the PTI.
It operated from 1995 to 2008. The Palomar Planet Search Telescope, aka Sleuth, was a 0.1 m (3
The asteroid belt is the circumstellar disc in the Solar System located between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter. It is occupied by numerous irregularly shaped bodies called minor planets; the asteroid belt is termed the main asteroid belt or main belt to distinguish it from other asteroid populations in the Solar System such as near-Earth asteroids and trojan asteroids. About half the mass of the belt is contained in the four largest asteroids: Ceres, Vesta and Hygiea; the total mass of the asteroid belt is 4% that of the Moon, or 22% that of Pluto, twice that of Pluto's moon Charon. Ceres, the asteroid belt's only dwarf planet, is about 950 km in diameter, whereas 4 Vesta, 2 Pallas, 10 Hygiea have mean diameters of less than 600 km; the remaining bodies range down to the size of a dust particle. The asteroid material is so thinly distributed that numerous unmanned spacecraft have traversed it without incident. Nonetheless, collisions between large asteroids do occur, these can produce an asteroid family whose members have similar orbital characteristics and compositions.
Individual asteroids within the asteroid belt are categorized by their spectra, with most falling into three basic groups: carbonaceous and metal-rich. The asteroid belt formed from the primordial solar nebula as a group of planetesimals. Planetesimals are the smaller precursors of the protoplanets. Between Mars and Jupiter, gravitational perturbations from Jupiter imbued the protoplanets with too much orbital energy for them to accrete into a planet. Collisions became too violent, instead of fusing together, the planetesimals and most of the protoplanets shattered; as a result, 99.9% of the asteroid belt's original mass was lost in the first 100 million years of the Solar System's history. Some fragments found their way into the inner Solar System, leading to meteorite impacts with the inner planets. Asteroid orbits continue to be appreciably perturbed whenever their period of revolution about the Sun forms an orbital resonance with Jupiter. At these orbital distances, a Kirkwood gap occurs. Classes of small Solar System bodies in other regions are the near-Earth objects, the centaurs, the Kuiper belt objects, the scattered disc objects, the sednoids, the Oort cloud objects.
On 22 January 2014, ESA scientists reported the detection, for the first definitive time, of water vapor on Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt. The detection was made by using the far-infrared abilities of the Herschel Space Observatory; the finding was unexpected because comets, not asteroids, are considered to "sprout jets and plumes". According to one of the scientists, "The lines are becoming more and more blurred between comets and asteroids." In 1596, Johannes Kepler predicted “Between Mars and Jupiter, I place a planet” in his Mysterium Cosmographicum. While analyzing Tycho Brahe's data, Kepler thought that there was too large a gap between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. In an anonymous footnote to his 1766 translation of Charles Bonnet's Contemplation de la Nature, the astronomer Johann Daniel Titius of Wittenberg noted an apparent pattern in the layout of the planets. If one began a numerical sequence at 0 included 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, etc. doubling each time, added four to each number and divided by 10, this produced a remarkably close approximation to the radii of the orbits of the known planets as measured in astronomical units provided one allowed for a "missing planet" between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
In his footnote, Titius declared "But should the Lord Architect have left that space empty? Not at all."When William Herschel discovered Uranus in 1781, the planet's orbit matched the law perfectly, leading astronomers to conclude that there had to be a planet between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. On January 1, 1801, Giuseppe Piazzi, chair of astronomy at the University of Palermo, found a tiny moving object in an orbit with the radius predicted by this pattern, he dubbed it "Ceres", after the Roman goddess of the patron of Sicily. Piazzi believed it to be a comet, but its lack of a coma suggested it was a planet. Thus, the aforementioned pattern, now known as the Titius–Bode law, predicted the semi-major axes of all eight planets of the time. Fifteen months Heinrich Olbers discovered a second object in the same region, Pallas. Unlike the other known planets and Pallas remained points of light under the highest telescope magnifications instead of resolving into discs. Apart from their rapid movement, they appeared indistinguishable from stars.
Accordingly, in 1802, William Herschel suggested they be placed into a separate category, named "asteroids", after the Greek asteroeides, meaning "star-like". Upon completing a series of observations of Ceres and Pallas, he concluded, Neither the appellation of planets nor that of comets, can with any propriety of language be given to these two stars... They resemble small stars so much. From this, their asteroidal appearance, if I take my name, call them Asteroids. By 1807, further investigation revealed two new objects in the region: Vesta; the burning of Lilienthal in the Napoleonic wars, where the main body of work had been done, brought this first period of discovery to a close. Despite Herschel's coinage, for several decades it remained common practice to refer to these objects as planets and to prefix t
C-type asteroids are the most common variety, forming around 75% of known asteroids. They are distinguished by a low albedo because their composition includes a large amount of carbon, in addition to rocks and minerals, they occur most at the outer edge of the asteroid belt, 3.5 astronomical units from the Sun, where 80% of the asteroids are of this type, whereas only 40% of asteroids at 2 AU from the Sun are C-type. The proportion of C-types may be greater than this, because C-types are much darker than most other asteroid types except for D-types and others that are at the extreme outer edge of the asteroid belt. Asteroids of this class have spectra similar to those of carbonaceous chondrite meteorites; the latter are close in chemical composition to the Sun and the primitive solar nebula, except for the absence of hydrogen and other volatiles. Hydrated minerals are present. C-type asteroids are dark, with albedos in the 0.03 to 0.10 range. Whereas a number of S-type asteroids can be viewed with binoculars at opposition the largest C-type asteroids require a small telescope.
The brightest C-type asteroid is 324 Bamberga, but that object's high eccentricity means it reaches its maximum magnitude. Their spectra contain moderately strong ultraviolet absorption at wavelengths below about 0.4 μm to 0.5 μm, while at longer wavelengths they are featureless but reddish. The so-called "water" absorption feature of around 3 μm, which can be an indication of water content in minerals, is present; the largest unequivocally C-type asteroid is 10 Hygiea, although the SMASS classification places the largest asteroid, 1 Ceres, here as well, because that scheme lacks a G-type. In the Tholen classification, the C-type is grouped along with three less numerous types into a wider C-group of carbonaceous asteroids which contains: B-type C-type F-type G-type In the SMASS classification, the wider C-group contains the types: B-type corresponding to the Tholen B and F-types a core C-type for asteroids having the most "typical" spectra in the group Cg and Cgh types corresponding to the Tholen G-type Ch type with an absorption feature around 0.7μm Cb type corresponding to transition objects between the SMASS C and B types Asteroid spectral types