Sources of Information

During the second half of the 19th century, the AN were the leading resource in this regard, because they appeared promptly and were distributed widely. The AN were both a scientific journal and a data base. Contributions taken from this source are referred to here by 'AN,' followed by the number of the volume and the column, as well as by the year. All other journals are referred to by the system of abbreviations used in Astronomy and Astrophysics Abstracts. Concurrently with the AN, the BAJ gained a central importance. Reports on current affairs were often published in the Circulars of the BAJ; for these, we use the abbreviation 'BAJ Circ.,' followed by the serial number and the year.

Two series of informative papers have taken over the role of these journals as distributors of data about minor planets since 1926, namely the RI and its successor,

Fig. 4: The Shoemaker dynasty

the MPC. From 1926 until the end of World War II, the ARI, Berlin, edited special circulars publishing observations, orbital elements, namings, etc. Every astronomer working in this field knows these circulars as 'RI', an abbreviation for 'Rechen-Institut.' When the Minor Planet Center was founded after World War II, the function of the RI was taken over by the Minor Planet Circulars. This dictionary refers to the MPC by the letter 'M,' followed by the appropriate number.

An important source of information has been the compilation The Names of the Minor Planets, edited by Paul Herget and published by the Cincinnati Observatory (1955, 1968). It reports not only on discovery circumstances but also gives explanations to the names of numerous minor planets, with reference to the astronomers who contributed to the explanations of these names. We took over, partly revised and completed a great part of the notes published by Herget. This is shown in the dictionary by the letter 'H,' followed by the page number. On the matter of names from classical mythology, we sometimes quote Zimmermann (1964), referred to by the letter 'Z' followed by the appropriate page number.

The bibliographical data contained in the references include other important publications which were very helpful for the description and explanation of names. In many cases, colleagues gave helpful comments. Such private communications to the author (LDS) are not mentioned explicitly; instead, the names of these colleagues are given in parentheses, following the relevant citations. Generally, any information not provided in the original sources has been included in braces.

Catalogue of

Minor Planet Names and

Discovery Circumstances






Title page of Giuseppe Piazzi's book "On the discovery of the new planet CERES FERDINANDEA, the eight of those known in our solar system". The vignette, against the background of Monte Pelegrini and the city of Palermo, shows an angel observing the goddess Ceres sitting in a carriage drawn by two snakes. The inscription on the telescope "CERES ADDITA COELI" (Ceres was added to the heavens) celebrates this epoch-making discovery of the first of the minor planets. (Courtesy of A. Baldi, Bologne)

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