2578 Saint-Exupéry

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2578 Saint-Exupéry
Discovery [1]
Discovered by T. Smirnova
Discovery site Crimean Astrophysical Obs.
Discovery date 2 November 1975
MPC designation (2578) Saint-Exupéry
Named after
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
(French writer)[2]
1975 VW3 · 1952 HG2
1980 TA1
main-belt · Eos
Orbital characteristics[1]
Epoch 4 September 2017 (JD 2458000.5)
Uncertainty parameter 0
Observation arc 64.61 yr (23,599 days)
Aphelion 3.2935 AU
Perihelion 2.7101 AU
3.0018 AU
Eccentricity 0.0972
5.20 yr (1,900 days)
0° 11m 22.2s / day
Inclination 10.571°
Physical characteristics
Dimensions 17.014±0.485[3]
22±9 km (calculated)[4]

2578 Saint-Exupéry, provisional designation 1975 VW3, is an asteroid from the outer region of the asteroid belt, approximately 17 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered by Russian astronomer Tamara Smirnova at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Nauchnyj on 2 November 1975, and named after French aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.[2][5]

Classification and orbit[edit]

Saint-Exupéry is a member of the Eos family,[citation needed] which are well known for mostly being of stony composition and with a relatively high albedo. The asteroid orbits the Sun in the outer main-belt at a distance of 2.7–3.3 AU once every 5 years and 2 months (1,900 days). Its orbit has an eccentricity of 0.10 and an inclination of 11° with respect to the ecliptic.[1]

First identified as 1952 HG2 at McDonald Observatory in Texas, and also observed by the Palomar Observatory one month later in May 1952, the asteroid's observation arc was extended by 23 years prior to its official discovery observation.[5]

Physical characteristics[edit]

According to the survey carried out by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer with its subsequent NEOWISE mission, Saint-Exupéry measures 17.0 kilometers in diameter and its surface has an albedo of 0.168.[3] Based on its absolute magnitude of 11.5, its generic diameter is between 13 and 30 kilometers, assuming an albedo in the range of 0.05 to 0.25.[4]

As of 2017, Saint-Exupéry's effective composition, rotation period and shape remain unknown.[1][6]


The minor planet was named in honour of French aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944). The name also alludes to Saint-Exupéry's best-known character, The Little Prince, who lives on an asteroid.[2]

In the book, the little prince's asteroid also has a unique code: B612 (which does not a match this 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).

The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 11 July 1987 (M.P.C. 12012).[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 2578 Saint-Exupery (1975 VW3)" (2017-01-02 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c Schmadel, Lutz D. (2007). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (2578) Saint-Exupéry. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 210. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3. Retrieved 6 December 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Masiero, Joseph R.; Mainzer, A. K.; Grav, T.; Bauer, J. M.; Cutri, R. M.; Dailey, J.; et al. (November 2011). "Main Belt Asteroids with WISE/NEOWISE. I. Preliminary Albedos and Diameters". The Astrophysical Journal. 741 (2): 20. Bibcode:2011ApJ...741...68M. arXiv:1109.4096Freely accessible. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/741/2/68. Retrieved 6 December 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Absolute Magnitude (H)". NASA/JPL. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  5. ^ a b "2578 Saint-Exupery (1975 VW3)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 6 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "LCDB Data for (2578) Saint-Exupéry". Asteroid Lightcurve Database (LCDB). Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  7. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 6 December 2016. 

External links[edit]