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  • 7/17/2004

Giuseppe Piazzi

(July 7,1746 -July 22,1826)

Giuseppe Piazzi was anastronomer. He was born inPonter (Veltlin) onJuly 7,1746, and died inNaples onJuly 22,1826. He established an observatory atPalermo.

OnJanuary 1,1801, Piazzi discovered a stellar object that moved against the background ofstars, which he first thought was a newcomet. He was not able to observe it long enough to compute itsorbit with existing methods, but the renowned mathematicianCarl Friedrich Gauss developed a new method of orbit calculation that allowed astronomers to locate it again. After its orbit was better determined, it was clear that the object was not a comet but more like a smallplanet. It was also almost exactly where theTitius-Bode law predicted a planet would be.

Piazzi named it "Ceres Ferdinandea", after the Classical Greek and Siciliangoddess of grain andKing Ferdinand IV ofNaples andSicily. The Ferdinandea part was later dropped for political reasons.Ceres turned out to be the first, and largest, of theasteroids existing within theAsteroid Belt.

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