A team of astronomers has spotted Hermes, an asteroid that disappeared into the night after a close flyby of Earth in 1937. Ever since, some researchers have wondered–and worried–about the asteroid's path. Last month, scientists finally found Hermes, and they now know what to expect from it.
"Within the astronomical community, people were almost obsessed with finding this thing," says Tim Spahr of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass.
Early in the morning of Oct. 15, Brian Skiff of Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., spotted a possible near-Earth asteroid. He alerted Spahr, who posted the finding on the Internet. Observers in California saw the asteroid within 30 minutes and sent additional positional data to Spahr.
Reviewing recent images of the sky, he could follow the asteroid and make rough calculations of its orbit around the sun. T