2578 Saint-Exupéry

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2578 Saint-Exupery
Discovery [1]
Discovered by T. Smirnova
Discovery site CrAO - Nauchnyj
Discovery date 2 November 1975
MPC designation 2578 Saint-Exupery
Named after
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (writer)[2]
1975 VW3 · 1952 HG2
1980 TA1
main-belt · Eos
Orbital characteristics[1]
Epoch 13 January 2016 (JD 2457400.5)
Uncertainty parameter 0
Observation arc 63.82 yr (23309 days)
Aphelion 3.2927 AU (492.58 Gm)
Perihelion 2.7093 AU (405.31 Gm)
3.0010 AU (448.94 Gm)
Eccentricity 0.097198
5.20 yr (1898.9 d)
0° 11m 22.488s / day
Inclination 10.571°
Earth MOID 1.71847 AU (257.079 Gm)
Jupiter MOID 2.12619 AU (318.073 Gm)
Jupiter Tisserand parameter 3.220
Physical characteristics
Dimensions 22±9 km (calculated)[3]

2578 Saint-Exupery, provisional designation 1975 VW3, is an asteroid from the outer region of the asteroid belt, roughly 22 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered by Russian female astronomer Tamara Smirnova at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Nauchnyj on 2 November 1975.[4]

The asteroid orbits the Sun at a distance of 2.7–3.3 AU once every 5 years and 2 months (1,899 days). Its orbit shows an eccentricity of 0.10 and is tilted by 11 degrees to the plane of the ecliptic. Little is known about the asteroids size, composition, albedo and rotation, despite having a well-observed orbit with the lowest possible uncertainty (i.e. a condition code of 0) and an observation arc that spans over a period of more than 60 years.[1]

Based on its absolute magnitude of 11.5, its diameter could be anywhere between 13 and 30 kilometers, assuming an albedo in the range of 0.05 to 0.25.[3] Since most asteroids in the outer main-belt are of a carbonaceous rather than of a silicaceous composition, with low albedos, typically around 0.05, the asteroid's diameter might be on the upper end of NASA's published conversion table, as the lower the reflectivity (albedo), the larger the body's diameter for a given absolute magnitude.[3] On the other hand, based on its orbital elements such as its semi-major axis, eccentricity and inclination, the body might be a member of the Eos family, which are well known for mostly being of stony composition with a relatively high albedo. Hence, Saint-Exupery's diameter would be closer to 13 kilometers.

The minor planet was named in honour of French aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944).[2] The name is appropriate, as Saint-Exupéry's best-known character, The Little Prince, lives on an asteroid. In the book, the little prince's asteroid also has a unique code: B612, which does not a match the minor planet's provisional designation. However, there is another asteroid called 46610 Bésixdouze, which is French for "B-six-twelve" (B612 in hexadecimal notation equals 46610).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 2578 Saint-Exupery (1975 VW3)" (2015-08-14 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (2578) Saint-Exupéry. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 210. ISBN 978-3-540-29925-7. Retrieved November 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c "Absolute Magnitude (H)". NASA/JPL. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  4. ^ "2578 Saint-Exupery (1975 VW3)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved November 2015. 

External links[edit]