|Nice Observatory in Nice, France|
|Nice Observatory's very nice telescope|
|Henri Perrotin |
also known as Joseph Perrotin
Stephanie Javelle he has been here since 1888 and will observe 1431 objects, 95% of which are new. He will also serve as inspiration for H.G. Wells War of the Worlds. In 1894 he will report seeing a strange light on Mars. We aren’t sure what it was, but it lit a fire under Wells imagination. He will name one of the characters in the novel “Lavelle” and no one believes that was a coincidence.
Perrotin’s six asteroids are impressive, but his second assistant has discovered six asteroids so far this year! In fact number six was last night--asteroid 314 Rosalia. That makes twenty-one asteroids for Auguste Charlois since he started working here in 1887. In 1893 he will discover a whopping twenty-four.
Just this year the observatory has started using astrophotograhy that allows more objects to be seen than could be found with the naked eye. (Sounds like Charlois was doing pretty well with just his naked eye.) It’s a technique perfected very recently by Max Wolf at the University of Heidelberg.
Charlois and Wolf are in competition to see who can find the most asteroids. Charlois is way ahead right now. He will eventually find ninety-nine asteroids in all. It would have been one hundred but 433 Eros was discovered the same night by Carl Gustave Witt who announced it to the press first. Hard to say who really found it first. But Witt only found two asteroids, so we will let him have Eros.
But Charlois is only twenty-seven now, and a rising star among astronomers. (Erm, no pun intended.) I think Perrotin is maybe a smidge jealous (and who can blame him) but Charlois is doing hat tricks for the home team (that’s “hitting home-runs” for you Yanks.) I don’t think Perrotin would want to lose either of these sharp-eyed young men.
I know Charlois will discover four more asteroids this month, but it was still exciting to watch. I will always remember 314 Rosalia as “my” asteroid. All right, I was sitting quietly in the corner being careful not to bother anyone, but I suppose I did help in my small way. I did fetch coffee.
A list of asteroids found between 1801 and 1923.
Notice A. Charlois dominates the 1890s.
|Photo of 298 Baptistina|