ANTINOUS dances gracefully through the heavens during the next two years ... Antinous the asteroid, that is!
Our British astronomer friend ZAVIJAVON on Twitter has created this stunning star chart (above) showing the path of this asteroid as its waltzes across the skies. He has kindly written the following observations about this celestial body:
The Antinous Asteroid is designated (1863) because it was the 1,863rd asteroid to be discovered belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids. These are bodies which cross the Earth’s Orbit, named after the first to be discovered called Apollo (1862), just before Antinous!
Antinous itself is discovered and named in 1948, and has a diameter of just 3 kms. It orbits the Sun in 3.39 years (1239.7 days).
Most of the time it is travelling at a slower speed than the Earth, so each year the Earth overtakes Antinous which then produces a retrograde or backwards motion loop against the stars.
In order to understand what is happening, think of a fast train overtaking a slower one. To a passenger in the fast train, the slow one appears to move backwards, despite both moving in the same direction!
Visual magnitude of +19 makes it far fainter than Pluto. The Faintest objects visible to the naked eye is +6. As the positive value increases the object becomes fainter. An object with a magnitude value of +7 is approximately 2.5 times fainter than an object that is +6. And so on.....
So you can readily appreciate how faint Antinous is in reality.
More up to date measurements suggest that Antinous is irregularly shaped, with a diameter of 5 kms . It is rotating in a period of 4.3 hours. So a ‘day’ on Antinous is just over 4 hours in length ( sunrise to sunrise).
Thank you, Zavijavon for this stellar information!