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LONG-LOST ASTEROID FOUND

Armagh Observatory, 11 May 2000:
An asteroid discovered in 1911 and subsequently lost has been re-discovered by a team of astronomers using the Spacewatch facility in Arizona, USA. One of the observers is Jim Scotti, a part-time research student at the Armagh Observatory.

The asteroid was originally found by the Austrian astronomer Johann Palisa on 3 October 1911 and was named (719) Albert, after Albert Freiherr von Rothschild, a benefactor of the Vienna Observatory.

However, due to a full Moon and a period of persistent bad weather, the object was soon lost. During the last 89 years, it had become a kind of holy grail among asteroid hunters. The Spacewatch team was over the Moon at relocating the minor planet: the last, lost numbered asteroid.

The Spacewatch programme has been in operation since 1983. Its main function is to discover the celestial bodies known as near-Earth objects (NEOs). NEOs have orbits that can bring them relatively close to the Earth.

However, there is no threat of a collision with (719) Albert. It orbits the Sun approximately every four and a quarter years, and is expected to come no closer to the Earth than about 27 million miles in September 2001.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Prof. Mark Bailey or John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory. Tel.: 028-3752-2928.

Last Revised: 10th August 2000
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