Early Investigations of Ceres and the Discovery of Pallas

Historical Studies in Asteroid Research

  • Clifford Cunningham

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Clifford Cunningham
    Pages 15-27
  3. Clifford Cunningham
    Pages 29-46
  4. Clifford Cunningham
    Pages 47-93
  5. Clifford Cunningham
    Pages 95-120
  6. Clifford Cunningham
    Pages 131-225
  7. Clifford Cunningham
    Pages 227-231
  8. Clifford Cunningham
    Pages 233-249
  9. Clifford Cunningham
    Pages 251-380
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 381-412

About this book


An asteroid scholar, Cunningham in this book picks up where his Discovery of the First Asteroid, Ceres left off in telling the story of the impact created by the discovery of this new class of object in the early 1800s. The best and brightest minds of mathematics, science, and philosophy were fascinated by Ceres, and figures as diverse as Gauss, Herschel, Brougham, Kant, and Laplace all contributed something to the conversation. The first few chapters deal with the mathematical and philosophical aspects of the discovery, and the rivalry between Germany and France that so affected science and astronomy of that era. The jockeying for glory over the discovery of Ceres by both Piazzi and Bode is examined in detail, as is the reception given to Herschel’s use of the word 'asteroid.' Archival research that reveals the creator of the word 'asteroid' is presented in this book.


Astronomy was a truly cosmopolitan field at the time, spanning across various disciplines, and the discovery of Pallas, a story completely told in these pages, exemplifies the excitement and drama of early 1800s astronomy. All the private correspondence about the study of Ceres and Pallas in 1802 is given here, which helps to contextualize and personalize the discovery.



19th Century Astronomy Asteroid Discovery Asteroids in Solar System Celestial Mechanics of Asteroids Discovery of Ceres First Asteroid Foreign Astronomy Hegel and Ceres Historical Astronomy Piazzi and Oriani

Authors and affiliations

  • Clifford Cunningham
    • 1

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Physics and Astronomy
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-28813-0
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-28815-4
  • Buy this book on publisher's site