656 Beagle

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656 Beagle
Discovery [1]
Discovered by A. Kopff
Discovery site Heidelberg Obs.
Discovery date 22 January 1908
MPC designation (656) Beagle
Named after
HMS Beagle[2]
(Darwin's ship)
1908 BU · 1917 Sed
1954 HJ
main-belt[1][3] · (outer)
Themis[4] · Beagle[4]
Orbital characteristics[3]
Epoch 23 March 2018 (JD 2458200.5)
Uncertainty parameter 0
Observation arc 109.90 yr (40,141 d)
Aphelion 3.5722 AU
Perihelion 2.7270 AU
3.1496 AU
Eccentricity 0.1342
5.59 yr (2,042 d)
0° 10m 34.68s / day
Inclination 0.5165°
Physical characteristics
Mean diameter
62.60±0.51 km[5]
7.035±0.003 h[6]

656 Beagle, provisional designation 1908 BU, is an asteroid from the outer regions of the asteroid belt, approximately 60 kilometers (37 miles) in diameter. It was discovered on 22 January 1908, by German astronomer August Kopff at the Heidelberg Observatory.[1] It is the principal body and namesake of the small Beagle cluster located within the Themis family.[4] The C-type asteroid is likely highly elongated and has a rotation period of 7.0 hours.[6] It was named for Darwin's ship, HMS Beagle.[2]

Orbit and classification[edit]

Beagle is the principal body and namesake of the Beagle cluster (620),[4] a small asteroid family of less than 150 known members, located within the much larger Themis family (602) of carbonaceous asteroids, which is named after 24 Themis.[8] It orbits the Sun in the outer main-belt at a distance of 2.7–3.6 AU once every 5 years and 7 months (2,042 days; semi-major axis of 3.15 AU). Its orbit has an eccentricity of 0.13 and an inclination of 1° with respect to the ecliptic.[3]


This minor planet was named after the HMS Beagle, with which naturalist Charles Darwin sailed around the world from 1831 to 1836. The official naming citation was mentioned in The Names of the Minor Planets by Paul Herget in 1955 (H 68).[2]

Physical characteristics[edit]

In the SDSS-based taxonomy, Beagle is a carbonaceous C-type asteroid,[7] in line with the overall spectral type of the Beagle and Themis family.[8]:23

Rotation period[edit]

In April 2004, a rotational lightcurve of Beagle was obtained from photometric observations by John Menke at the Menke Observatory. Lightcurve analysis gave a rotation period of 7.035±0.003 hours with a very high brightness amplitude of 1.2 magnitude, indicative of an non-spherical, elongated shape (U=3).[6]

Diameter and albedo[edit]

According to the survey carried out by the NEOWISE mission of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, Beagle measures 62.6 kilometers in diameter and its surface has an albedo of 0.045.[5] The Collaborative Asteroid Lightcurve Link adopts the SIMPS albedo of 0.0625 and a diameter of 53.17 kilometers based on an absolute magnitude of 10.0.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "656 Beagle (1908 BU)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 12 July 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c Schmadel, Lutz D. (2007). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (656) Beagle. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 65. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3. Retrieved 12 July 2018. 
  3. ^ a b c d "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 656 Beagle (1908 BU)" (2017-12-16 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 12 July 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Asteroid 656 Beagle". Small Bodies Data Ferret. Retrieved 12 July 2018. 
  5. ^ a b c Masiero, Joseph R.; Grav, T.; Mainzer, A. K.; Nugent, C. R.; Bauer, J. M.; Stevenson, R.; et al. (August 2014). "Main-belt Asteroids with WISE/NEOWISE: Near-infrared Albedos" (PDF). The Astrophysical Journal. 791 (2): 11. arXiv:1406.6645Freely accessible. Bibcode:2014ApJ...791..121M. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/791/2/121. Retrieved 12 July 2018. 
  6. ^ a b c d "LCDB Data for (656) Beagle". Asteroid Lightcurve Database (LCDB). Retrieved 12 July 2018. 
  7. ^ a b Carvano, J. M.; Hasselmann, P. H.; Lazzaro, D.; Mothé-Diniz, T. (February 2010). "SDSS-based taxonomic classification and orbital distribution of main belt asteroids". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 510: 12. Bibcode:2010A&A...510A..43C. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/200913322. Retrieved 12 July 2018. 
  8. ^ a b Nesvorný, D.; Broz, M.; Carruba, V. (December 2014). "Identification and Dynamical Properties of Asteroid Families" (PDF). Asteroids IV: 297–321. arXiv:1502.01628Freely accessible. Bibcode:2015aste.book..297N. doi:10.2458/azu_uapress_9780816532131-ch016. Retrieved 12 July 2018. 

External links[edit]