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Ophelia (minor planet designation: 171 Ophelia) is a large, dark Themistian asteroid that was discovered by French astronomer Alphonse Borrelly on 13 January 1877, and named after the fictional character Ophelia in Shakespeare's play Hamlet.

171 Ophelia
Discovered byA. Borrelly
Discovery date13 January 1877
MPC designation(171) Ophelia
Main belt (Themis)
Orbital characteristics[1]
Epoch 31 July 2016 (JD 2457600.5)
Uncertainty parameter 0
Observation arc122.15 yr (44615 d)
Aphelion3.5476 AU (530.71 Gm)
Perihelion2.7175 AU (406.53 Gm)
3.1326 AU (468.63 Gm)
5.54 yr (2025.1 d)
0° 10m 39.972s / day
Physical characteristics
Mean radius
58.345±1.8 km
6.66535 h (0.277723 d)

This asteroid is a member of the Themis family of asteroids that share similar orbital elements.[2] It probably has a primitive composition, similar to that of the carbonaceous chondrite meteorites.

A 1979 study of the Algol-like light curve produced by this asteroid concluded that it was possible to model the brightness variation by assuming a binary system with a circular orbit, a period of 13.146 hours, and an inclination of 15° to the line of sight from the Earth.[3] Photometric observations of this asteroid at the Leura Observatory in Leura, Australia during 2006 gave a rotation period of 6.6666 ± 0.0002 hours and a brightness variation of 0.50 ± 0.02 in magnitude. This is in agreement with previous studies.[4]

Ophelia is also the name of a moon of Uranus.


  1. ^ Yeomans, Donald K., "171 Ophelia", JPL Small-Body Database Browser, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, retrieved 6 May 2016.
  2. ^ Moore, Patrick; Rees, Robin, eds. (2011), Patrick Moore's Data Book of Astronomy (2nd ed.), Cambridge University Press, p. 165.
  3. ^ Wijesinghe, M. P.; Tedesco, E. F. (December 1979), "A test of plausibility of eclipsing binary asteroids", Icarus, 40, pp. 383–393, Bibcode:1979Icar...40..383W, doi:10.1016/0019-1035(79)90031-9.
  4. ^ Oey, Julian (December 2006), "Lightcurves analysis of 10 asteroids from Leura Observatory", The Minor Planet Bulletin, 33 (4), pp. 96–99, Bibcode:2006MPBu...33...96O.

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