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13123 Tyson, provisional designation 1994 KA, is a stony Phocaea asteroid and an asynchronous binary system from the inner regions of the asteroid belt, approximately 10 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered on May 16, 1994, by American astronomer Carolyn Shoemaker and Canadian astronomer David Levy at the Palomar Observatory in California, United States.[10] The asteroid was named for Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist and popular science communicator.[2]

13123 Tyson
Discovery [1]
Discovered byC. Shoemaker
D. H. Levy
Discovery sitePalomar Obs.
Discovery date16 May 1994
MPC designation(13123) Tyson
Named after
Neil deGrasse Tyson
(American astrophysicist)[2]
1994 KA · 1995 YO2
main-belt · Phocaea[3][4]
Orbital characteristics[1]
Epoch 4 September 2017 (JD 2458000.5)
Uncertainty parameter 0
Observation arc63.78 yr (23,297 days)
Aphelion2.9996 AU
Perihelion1.7201 AU
2.3598 AU
3.63 yr (1,324 days)
0° 16m 18.84s / day
Known satellites1[5][6][a]
Physical characteristics
Dimensions8.22 km (calculated)[3]
10.87±0.61 km[7]
3.329±0.001 h[8]
3.3303±0.0002 h[5][a]
0.23 (assumed)[3]
12.19±0.09 (R)[5] · 12.20[7] · 12.3[1] · 12.41±0.41[9] · 12.64[3]

Orbit and classificationEdit

The stony S-type asteroid is a member of the Phocaea family (701),[4] a rather small group of asteroids with similar orbital characteristics, named after its largest member, 25 Phocaea. It orbits the Sun in the inner main-belt at a distance of 1.7–3.0 AU once every 3 years and 8 months (1,324 days). Its orbit has an eccentricity of 0.27 and an inclination of 23° with respect to the ecliptic.[1] The first precovery was taken at Palomar's Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) in 1953, extending the asteroid's observation arc by 41 years prior to its discovery.[10]

Physical characteristicsEdit

Rotation periodEdit

In February 2015, a rotational lightcurve was obtained by astronomer Petr Pravec at the Astronomical Institute, Czech Republic. It showed a well-defined rotation period of 3.3303 hours with a brightness amplitude of 0.20 in magnitude (U=3).[5][a] A previous photometric observation in August 2009, at the Oakley Southern Sky Observatory, Australia, gave a lightcurve with a similar period of 3.329 hours and a brightness variation of 0.35 magnitude (U=3-).[8]


Tyson is an asynchronous binary asteroid, with a minor planet moon, designated S/2015 (12123) 1 in its orbit. The satellite has a rotation period of 3.862 hours. No other physical properties for this binary system has been published.[5][6][a]

Diameter and albedoEdit

According to the survey carried out by NASA's space-based Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer with its subsequent NEOWISE mission, the asteroid measures 10.9 kilometers in diameter and its surface has an albedo of 0.197,[7] while the Collaborative Asteroid Lightcurve Link assumes an albedo of 0.23 and calculates a smaller diameter of 8.2 kilometers with an absolute magnitude of 12.64.[3]


This minor planet was named in honor of American astrophysicist and popular science communicator, Neil deGrasse Tyson (b. 1958). In 1996, he became director of New York's Hayden Planetarium and oversaw its complete renovation. Tyson was also a research affiliate at Princeton University.[2] The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 11 November 2000 (M.P.C. 41572).[11]


  1. ^ a b c d Pravec (2015/16): lightcurve plot of (13123) Tyson with a rotation period of 3.3303±0.0002 hours and a brightness amplitude of 0.20 mag at H= 12.19±0.09 (R) and an assigned quality code of U=3. It is an unconfirmed binary asteroid, that lacks mutual eclipse/occultation events. Two periods were derived: 3.3302 (primary, first plot) and 3.862 hours (satellite, second lightcurve plot), with an amplitude of 0.2 and 0.04 mag. Summary figures at Collaborative Asteroid Lightcurve Link (CALL), also see Pravec, P.; Wolf, M.; Sarounova, L. (2015), and 2016-publication[5]


  1. ^ a b c d "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 13123 Tyson (1994 KA)" (2016-11-27 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Schmadel, Lutz D. (2007). "(13123) Tyson". Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (13123) Tyson. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 793. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-29925-7_8741. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "LCDB Data for (13123) Tyson". Asteroid Lightcurve Database (LCDB). Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Small Bodies Data Ferret". Nesvorny HCM Asteroid Families V3.0. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Pravec, P.; Scheirich, P.; Kusnirák, P.; Hornoch, K.; Galád, A.; Naidu, S. P.; et al. (March 2016). "Binary asteroid population. 3. Secondary rotations and elongations". Icarus. 267: 267–295. Bibcode:2016Icar..267..267P. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2015.12.019. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  6. ^ a b Johnston, Robert (27 November 2015). "(13123) Tyson". Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d Masiero, Joseph R.; Mainzer, A. K.; Grav, T.; Bauer, J. M.; Cutri, R. M.; Nugent, C.; et al. (November 2012). "Preliminary Analysis of WISE/NEOWISE 3-Band Cryogenic and Post-cryogenic Observations of Main Belt Asteroids". The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 759 (1): 5. arXiv:1209.5794. Bibcode:2012ApJ...759L...8M. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/759/1/L8. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  8. ^ a b Krotz, Jonathan; Albers, Kendra; Carbo, Landry; Kragh, Katherine; Meiers, Andrew; Yim, Arnold; et al. (July 2010). "Asteroid Lightcurve Analysis at the Oakley Southern Sky Observatory". The Minor Planet Bulletin. 37 (3): 99–101. Bibcode:2010MPBu...37...99K. ISSN 1052-8091. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  9. ^ Veres, Peter; Jedicke, Robert; Fitzsimmons, Alan; Denneau, Larry; Granvik, Mikael; Bolin, Bryce; et al. (November 2015). "Absolute magnitudes and slope parameters for 250,000 asteroids observed by Pan-STARRS PS1 - Preliminary results". Icarus. 261: 34–47. arXiv:1506.00762. Bibcode:2015Icar..261...34V. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2015.08.007. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  10. ^ a b "13123 Tyson (1994 KA)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  11. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 19 May 2016.

External linksEdit