15760 Albion, provisional designation 1992 QB1, was the first trans-Neptunian object to be discovered after Pluto and Charon. Measuring about 108–167 kilometres in diameter, it was discovered in 1992 by David C. Jewitt and Jane X. Luu at the Mauna Kea Observatory, Hawaii. After the discovery, they dubbed the object ‘Smiley’ and it was shortly hailed as the tenth planet by the press. It is a "cold" classical Kuiper belt object and gave rise to the name cubewano for this kind of object, after the QB1 portion of its designation. Decoding its provisional designation, "QB1" reveals that it was the 27th object found in the second half of August of that year. As of January 2018, around 2,400 further objects have been found beyond Neptune, a majority of which are classical Kuiper belt objects. It was named after Albion from William Blake's mythology.
Long-exposure image of Albion (circled) taken by the European Southern Observatory in September 1992
|Discovered by||D. C. Jewitt|
J. X. Luu
|Discovery site||Mauna Kea Obs.|
|Discovery date||30 August 1992|
|Albion (mythology by William Blake)|
|TNO · cubewano (cold)|
|Epoch 31 May 2020 (JD 2459000.5)|
|Uncertainty parameter 3|
|Observation arc||26.34 yr (9,621 days)|
|291.13 yr (106,334 days)|
|0° 0m 12.188s / day|
|7.38±0.06 · 7.1|
This minor planet was named after Albion from the complex mythology of English poet and painter William Blake (1757–1827). Albion is the island-dwelling primeval man whose division resulted into The Four Zoas: Urizen, Tharmas, Luvah/Orc and Urthona/Los. The name Albion itself derives from the ancient and mythological name of Britain. The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 31 January 2018 (M.P.C. 108697).
The discoverers suggested the name "Smiley" for (15760) 1992 QB1, but the name was already used for an asteroid 1613 Smiley, named after the American astronomer Charles Hugh Smiley. It has received the number 15760 and remained unnamed until January 2018 (it was normally referred to simply as "QB1", even though this was technically ambiguous without the year of discovery).
Over one thousand bodies were found in the Kuiper belt orbiting between about 30 and 50 AU from the Sun in the twenty years after finding 15760 Albion. This revealed a vast belt of bodies, more than just Pluto and Albion themselves. By 2018, over 2000 Kuiper belt objects were discovered.
^ Minor planet and asteroid provisional designations follow a format, in which the year it was discovered comes first, followed by the half-month it was discovered alphabetically (e.g. A=January 1–15, B=January 16–31 and so on, but skipping the letters I and Z) and then the order of its discovery alphabetically followed by a number (e.g. 1992 QA, 1992 QB, 1992 QC ... 1992 QY, 1992 QZ, 1992 QA1, 1992 QB1 and so on.) According to this, Q=August 16–31 and B1=25+2=27.
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