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The Four Big Asteroids

Hey asteroid lovers! We are bringing up another interesting article for you to enjoy at your leisure time! So far now, we have identified the two largest asteroids in the Main Asteroid Belt: Ceres and Vesta.


Above is a picture of both Ceres & Vesta. Ceres (left) & Vesta (Right)



If you are unfamiliar with them, we recommend that you visit the previous articles on Ceres & Vesta and read about them carefully before continuing,  or you might find all this bit confusing! Below are the links to previous articles! Happy reading Universers!


International Asteroids Day





Now here’s something you should make note. Including Ceres & Vesta, there are four big asteroids circling the Sun along that dust cloud formed in the shape of a rubber tube (like the ones you used for swimming) we call the Main Asteroid Belt.

The Four Big, according to the order of their size: Ceres, Vesta, Pallas and Hygiea.

Above is a picture of both Pallas & Hygiea. Pallas (Left) & Hygiea (Right)




As they were discovered eventually, scientists at that time started to toy with the idea that these four big asteroids could be planets as well. But as the heavens cleared with the help of better telescopes, they realized what they were looking at was nothing more than the floating remains of a destroyed planet, circling the sun as a cloud of space litter in the shape of a rubber tube (like you use in swimming), held in place by Jupiter’s gravitational force. As they kept discovering more and more asteroids, naming them simply like Ceres,  Pallas, Vesta or Hygiea, confused later space observers. Hence, the style of naming asteroids with a number according to the order of their discovery was introduced.




Ceres was discovered in 1801, Pallas in 1802, Vesta in 1807 and Hygiea in 1849. So, in the order of discovery these Asteroids are named as 1Hygea, 2 Pallas, 4 Vesta and 10Hygiea. You are wondering what happened to number 3? Yeah, and what about 5,6,7,8 and 9? Don’t worry! They are all there! 3Juno (1804), 5Astraea (1845) 6Hebe (1847), 7Iris (1847), 8Flora (1847), 9Metis (1848) … we will study them one by one in the coming articles. But for the moment, let’s focus only on the Big Four:

1Hygea, 2Pallas, 4Vesta and 10Hygiea.




It should be noted however that if the first ten asteroids discovered in the Main Asteroid Belt are told to stand in a row according to their weight, the number in front of their name would become meaningless to some extent. 1Hygea would promptly come forward, no problem. But 4 Vesta would elbow pass both 2Pallas and 10Hygiea and stand behind 1 Hygea! 2Pallas would push past 3 Juno and would be at third place. 10Hygiea would be in fourth place and 5Astraea, 6Hebe, 7Iris, 8Flora, 9Metis would go unnoticed!





That’s why we discussed 1 Hygea and 4Vesta before all others … should have some respect when it comes to size … especially, when it is about the objects in the universe!



Kids Fun Facts Corner


#1. About half the mass of Main Asteroid Belt is contained in the Big Four asteroids.


#2. Ceres was discovered by Giuseppe Piazzi, an Italian Catholic priest of the Theatine order, mathematician, and astronomer in 1801.


#3. Vesta was discovered by the German Astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers in 1807. A lengthy name, huh?


#4. Pallas was discovered after 1Ceres in 1802, by the same German Astronomer who discovered 4Vesta.


#5. Hygiea was discovered by Italian Astronomer Annibale de Gasparis in 1849.


Q&A Corner

Q. List the Big Four Asteroids in the order of their mass?

Q. List the Big Four Asteroids in the order of their discovery?

Q. List the first 10 Asteroids that were discovered since 1801?

Q. List the astronomers who discovered the Big Four Asteroids?

Q. How many a asteroids have Annibale De Gasparis discovered?



Download questions about the four big asteroids here: The Four Big Asteroids (answers are on this page)

Teachers. For more in depth work sheets on Asteroids. Click on Kidskonnect. Worksheets

This articles was quest written by Chinthaka Nanayakkara @ Write Support. Write Support is an Organiser of Mini e-book Writing Projects. 


2 thoughts on “The Four Big Asteroids”

  1. The style that you write make it really trouble-free to read. And the design you use, wow. Its a really good combination. And I am wondering what is the name of the template you use?

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