Asteroids are very dim. So it's hard to know exactly how big they are and what shape they have. Fortunately, astronomers are very good at figuring out asteroid orbits. And they've figured out how to use the light from distant stars to learn their shapes. Continue reading →
¡SkyCaramba! Weekly astronomy blog for the week ending March 15, 2014
Asteroids are rocky objects orbiting the sun much like planets do. They’re often described as minor planets. Unlike major planets, asteroids don’t have their own atmospheres as far as we know. But a few have moons. They’re being orbited by other asteroids!
Major planets are round, but asteroids come in many shapes. Some are roundish, some are like ovals, and some are very irregular. There’s one shaped like a peanut. There are many asteroids astronomers don’t know enough about to say what shape they are. Asteroids are so small, the first ones discovered were just star-like points of light in the best telescopes of the time. The word asteroid actually means star-like object.
Since asteroids are some of the smallest objects in the sky and they don’t reflect a lot of sunlight in the first place, they are very dim. So ...