Monday 27 May 2019


THE STAR Johannesburg - 1938, 10 January 
The German astronomer, KARL REINMUTH, discovered “THE RUNAWAY PLANET” in 1937 when it zipped past Earth at about 800,000 km, just twice the distance to the moon. Unfortunately, astronomers lost sight before they could precisely determine its orbit. “THE RUNAWAY PLANET” - OBJECT REINMUTH 1937 UB (O.R. for short) missed the earth by 5½ hours on October 30, 1937. On 10 January 1938 THE STAR Johannesburg reported that Cape Town astronomers, Dr. H.E. Wood and Mr. Arthur W. Long, predicted that O.R. may be coming back in a few years’ time. The asteroid was named after the swift messenger god of the ancient Greeks, HERMES. 
After 66 years, on 15 October 2003, this kilometre-wide asteroid became visible again and the new orbit was firmly linked to the scant observations of 1937. Relieved astronomers announced that the potential killer rock will not get uncomfortably close to Earth within the next century. They predicted that HERMES will make its closest approach to Earth on 4 Nov. 2003, at a safe distance of 7 million km. They expect that it won't get any closer than about 3 million km within the next hundred years or so. According to astronomers it is hard to predict what will happen in the distant future, as HERMES seems to be very eccentric. At least HERMES won't get lost again, thanks to the new observations. 
(Additional info taken from an article by Govert Schilling, Oct. 17, 2003 -

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