Special Issue : 10/01/2004
A scientific publication by SGF and NEODyS

A special issue of Tumbling Stone dedicated to a special tumbling stone

In this special issue of TS dedicated to Hermes you will find all the details of its' recovery and of the exciting scientific discoveries that followed it. You can start reading the introductory article "The strange story of Hermes" and follow the links to know more, or directly read the interviews with the researchers and scientists who participated to the story...

Visit us during this month, the issue will be upgraded with new interviews and material!!!

The strange story of Hermes by Livia Giacomini

The story begins at Heidelberg, Germany, on October 28 1937, when a pretty big asteroid is discovered by Karl Reinmuthit. The asteroid, known by the name Hermes ever since, is tracked for only 5 nights and from that moment lost. To recover it, scientists had to wait 66 years, exactly the night of the 15th of October 2003. From that moment, Hermes is observed and studied by the scientific community in many different ways ....
(read an introduction about Hermes story)

Hermes story telled by NEO people...

Lutz Schmadel (University of Heidelberg), published in 2001 a scientific article about Hermes, announcing that october 2003 would have been a good moment to search for the lost asteroid

Brian Skiff (LONEOS, Lowell Observatory Near-Earth-Objects Search) took on the15th of October 2003 the CCD images of the recovery of Hermes

Timothy Spahr (Minor Planet Center), alerted the scientific community that the newly discovered object on Skiff's images was probably Hermes. In his interview he also tells us about MPC and its role

Andrea Boattini (Spaceguard Foundation), has been looking for Hermes for a long time. He was among the first researchers to think that Hermes was the unusual object recorded on Skiff's images and explains in his interview why Hermes was so difficult to find

Maura Tombelli (Amateur Astronomer) participated to the search of Hermes over the years and tells us the story from the amateurs' point of view

Steve Chesley (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) tells how he made the linking at JPL between the observations of 1937 and the ones of 2003, confirming that the object on Skiff's images actually was Hermes

Richard Binzel (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) obtained Hermes spectrum using the Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii finding that Hermes is most likely an S-type asteroid, but not quite as red-colored as some other S-type asteroids

Jean Luc Margot (University of California) observed Hermes with the Arecibo radar discovering it is a very strange double asteroid with 2 components that are nearly equal in size

Petr Pravec and Alan Harris (Ondrejov Observatory) measured Hermes' lightcurve and deduced important information about the period of its rotation. In their interview, you will find interesting information on lightcurves and photometric observations

Nanni Riccobono is a science writer who has studied NEOs' communication and tells us Hermes story from the point of view of a media expert.

Editor: Nanni Riccobono
Assistant Editor, web master and graphics: Livia Giacomini (
lagia@tiscalinet.it)

Spaceguard Foundation (SGF) is a private, non profit scientific organization aimed at supporting and co-ordinating NEO researches in the world.
NEO Dynamic Site (NEODyS) is a service offered by the University of Pisa (Italy). It provides catalogues, computation of orbits, and projection of the behavior of NEOs in the future, in order to identify possible impacts in advance.
Our sponsors:
The Astronomic Observatory of Mallorca (OAM)
tumblingstone@libero.it

Images of the heading: courtesy of NASA