30 Years of Exploration Since 1992 QB1 – The Beginning of the End of the Planet Pluto

30 Years of Exploration Since 1992 QB1 - The Beginning of the End of the Planet Pluto

Within four hours, 1992 QB1 has moved significantly against the background of the stars (NTT/ESO).

30 years ago, a telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii discovered an asteroid orbiting the Sun beyond Neptune. For more than 60 years there was only Pluto known.

1992 QB1, as it is officially called, was discovered by Vietnamese-American astronomer Jan Luu and his British-American colleague David Jew.

only about 150 kilometers in diameter

It is only about 150 kilometers in diameter and orbits further from the Sun than Pluto. Initially, some even considered it to be the tenth planet.

In the years that followed, the number of known bodies in the “Kuiper Belt” at the edge of the Solar System increased by leaps and bounds. Experts now know more than 2000 objects in this area.

Some are about the size of Pluto. Since not all of them can be counted as planets, Pluto belongs to the newly formed group of dwarf planets since 2006.

The “happiness” of the ninth planet

Once the ninth planet was only “lucky” to have been discovered in 1930 – the classification as a planet was absolutely correct at the time.

QB1, as experts long called it, was eventually named Albion – after a character in the invented mythology of English writer William Blake. Albion is the old name for Great Britain.

Luu and Jew initially named their discovery “Smiley” – but the smiling face could not be the godfather because there was already an asteroid with that name, named after astronomer Charles Smiley.

ESO Press Release on the Discovery of the “New Panetene”
Albion, 1992 The first asteroid beyond Neptune

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