Asteroid 2016 AE3   HOME INDEX BACK NEXT
First observation January 2, 2016
First magnitude 19.7
First constellation Gemini
Oribtal period 3.99 years
Semi-major axis (AU) 2.52 AU
Orbit eccentricity 0.16
Orbit inclination 5.57 degrees
Absolute magnitude 17.2
Approximate size 0.6 - 1.3 miles
Next opposition June 2017

Latest data on 2016 AE3 from the IAU Minor Planet Center

On the night of January 1-2, 2016, in the process of imaging another asteroid, I found my first new asteroid. It was about magnitude 19.7 at the time, slowly moving westward in Gemini.

These images, taken two nights later, show the movement of the asteroid over a period of 30 minutes.

2016 AE3 is in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, about 2.52 astronomical units from the Sun. It is traveling in a slightly elliptical orbit that is tilted about 5 degrees from the plane of the ecliptic. Based on its magnitude, its size can be roughly estimated to be between 0.6 to 1.3 miles across (depending on how reflective its surface is).

Image details:  3 images, each 5 minute exposures, taken with an SBIG ST8300M imager and a 14" Meade LX850 telescope.


After my observations were reported, the asteroid was found on images taken in 2007 and 2008 at Kitt Peak. This extends the "arc length" (time over which it has been observed) to 2963 days, greatly increasing the confidence in its predicted path.


This chart shows the projected path of asteroid 2016 AE3 for the 120 days following the first observation.

(Chart created with TheSkyX software.)


This chart shows the orbit of 2016 AE3. The locations of the objects are for January 2, 2016, the date of the first observation.

(Chart created with JPL Small-Body Database Browser.)