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Ceres is considered as the first asteroid that was discovered in 1801. It is sometimes assumed that Ceres has been reclassified as a dwarf planet, and that it is therefore no longer considered an asteroid. For example, a news update at Space.com spoke of “Pallas, the largest asteroid, and Ceres, the dwarf planet formerly classified as an asteroid”, whereas an IAU question-and-answer posting states, “Ceres is the largest asteroid”. So, according at the point of view of Space.com Ceres is a dwarf planet that is considered as the smallest and closest one.
Ceres is composed of rock and ice and is estimated to comprise approximately one third of the mass of the entire asteroid belt. It is the only object in the asteroid belt known to be rounded by its own gravity. From Earth, the apparent magnitude of Ceres ranges from 6.7 to 9.3, peaking once every 15 to 16 months.
Unlike other rocky bodies in the asteroid belt, Ceres is an oblate spheroid, rounded with a rotational bulge around its equator. Scientists think Ceres may have an ocean and possibly an atmosphere. The recent arrival of a probe has revealed some of the dwarf planet’s secrets, but others remain hidden.
The first Asteroid being discovered was Ceres
Ceres was the first asteroid to be discovered (by Giuseppe Piazzi at Palermo on 1 January 1801). It was originally considered a planet, but was reclassified as an asteroid in the 1850s after many other objects in similar orbits were discovered.
History and Discovery
Johann Elert Bode, in 1772, first suggested that an undiscovered planet could exist between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. One of the astronomers selected for the search was Giuseppe Piazzi, a Catholic priest at the Academy of Palermo, Sicily. Before receiving his invitation to join the group, Piazzi discovered Ceres on 1 January 1801. Piazzi observed Ceres a total of 24 times, the final time on 11 February 1801, when illness interrupted his observations. He announced his discovery on 24 January 1801.
You can watch the video below to know more detailed information about his discovery.
Source: wikipedia.org, Space.com
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