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Giuseppe Piazzi

Giuseppe Piazzi was an astronomer. He was born in Ponter (Veltlin) on July 7, 1746, and died in Naples on July 22, 1826. He established an observatory at Palermo.

On January 1, 1801, Piazzi discovered a stellar object that moved against the background of stars, which he first thought was a new comet. He was not able to observe it long enough to compute its orbit with existing methods, but the renowned mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss developed a new method of orbit calculation that allowed astronomers to locate it again. After its orbit was better determined, it was clear that the object was not a comet but more like a small planet. It was also almost exactly where the Titius-Bode law predicted a planet would be. Piazzi named it Ceres Ferdinandea, after the Classical Greek and Sicilian goddess of grain and King Ferdinand IV of Naples and Sicily (The Ferdinandea part was later dropped for political reasons). Ceres turned out to be the first, and largest, of the asteroids existing with the Asteroid Belt.