Yes, asteroids do have moons! In fact, 194 asteroids within the asteroid belt, which is located roughly between Mars and Jupiter, have been discovered to have moons so far. Throughout our solar system, hundreds of small bodies have been discovered to have moons.
The first asteroid discovered to have a moon was 243 Ida. Located in the asteroid belt, Ida was imaged in 1993 by the Galileo spacecraft that went on to study the Jupiter system. Ida’s moon Dactyl was discovered using images from Galileo.
On March 27, Unistellar citizen astronomers across the United States will have the opportunity to detect the moons of an asteroid with their eVscope!
Detect asteroid 93 Minerva and its moons with your eVscope!
In the early morning of March 27th, asteroid 93 Minerva and its moons will occult (pass in front of) a star, visible from a path sweeping across the United States.
Located in the asteroid belt, Minerva is a primitive C-type asteroid, the most common type of asteroid, and spans about 93 miles (150 kilometers) across. This asteroid was named after the Roman goddess Minerva, the counterpart of the Greek goddess Athena.
In 2009, Franck Marchis, Chief Scientific Officer of Unistellar and Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute, and his team discovered that Minerva had two moons! Franck and his team asked the public to come up with the names of its moons. Franck said:
“The decision to crowd-source the names caught the attention of the public, so whenever I had the opportunity I repeated the request when giving presentations to groups of amateur astronomers and in interviews to astronomy magazines. Over the following year, I received a lot of emails with suggestions. Interestingly, several of them used mythological attributes of the goddess Minerva as potential names for the moons.”
Read more about the naming of these moons on Franck’s blog.
After input from the public, Franck’s team finally decided on the names of Aegis and Gorgoneion: from the Aegis, the shield carried by Athena and the Gorgoneion, a magic amulet also used as protection and worn by Athena.
The names were proposed to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and accepted in 2013.
Ready to observe?
If we detect the shadows of Minerva’s moons, we may be able to generate shape models for them! In addition, we may be able to confirm their orbital paths around Minerva!
Check out our asteroid occultation predictions page for more details on this occultation including location, timing, and more.
- Click on North America on the drop-down menu and scroll down the page until you find 93 Minerva.
- Please note that if you want to observe Minerva’s moons, scroll down the page until you see information for each of Minerva’s moons: 93 Minerva I (Aegis) and 93 Minerva II (Gorgoneion) to make sure you are in the right place at the right time and observe for the correct duration.
If you have any questions, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.