Asteroid Albert Re-discovered After Being Lost for 89 Years

By Keith Cowing
May 13, 2000
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Asteroid 719 Albert

Until a few days ago, the last time anyone saw asteroid 719 Albert was 4 October 1911. On 1 May 2000, Spacewatch astronomers discovered asteroid 2000 JW8. After some mathematical calculations of the asteroid’s orbit at the Minor Planet Center, it was announced that asteroid 2000 JW8 was actually asteroid 719 Albert rediscovered after having been lost for 89 years. According to the Minor Planet Center “Albert has finally been reobserved. With this finding, it can safely be said that the current position is known of every one of the 14,788 asteroids in the numbered sequence that began with the discovery of (1) Ceres in 1801.”

Albert is between 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) and 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) in diameter and orbits the sun once every 4.28 years at a distance of 300 million miles. Every few decades, it approaches Earth, although it does not present an impact hazard. The next closest approach will be on 5 September 2001.

According to the Spacewatch press release, Spacewatch “is a survey of the whole solar system, from the vicinity of Earth’s orbit all the way out to beyond Neptune’s orbit. The primary goal is to explore the various populations of small objects in the solar system and to study the statistics of asteroids and comets to better understand the dynamical evolution of the solar system. Spacewatch also finds potential targets for space missions, provides astrometric support for spacecraft mission planning, and finds objects that might present a hazard to the Earth.”

Related links and Background information

° Long-lost asteroid 719 Albert is found — whereabouts unknown since 1911, UNiversity of Arizona/Spacewatch

° Long Lost Asteorid Found, Minor Planet Center at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

° Spacewatch, University of Arizona

° Asteroids and Comets, SpaceRef Directory

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.