The discovery of the first Near-Earth asteroid (433) Eros is attributed to G. Witt. He found Eros on a photographic plate taken on August 13, 1898, at the Urania-Sternwarte in Berlin. During the same night, A. Carlois also took a photographic plate of Eros. Charlois published a position of Eros somewhat later than Witt. Charlois has never been recognized as discoverer although he observed Eros photographically like Witt, on the same night. On the contrary, Charlois has been accused to have missed the honour of this important discovery because he did not analyze the photographic plate with Eros on the days immediately following the discovery, which were a Sunday and a holiday, respectively. After having investigated the archives of the Observatoire de Nice we conclude that the discovery story is more complex. Charlois may not have recognized Eros on his photographic plate due to a mechanical problem of the telescope which did not follow correctly the diurnal motion of stars which appeared as trails on the plate parallel to the trail of Eros. From a hitherto unnoticed reproduction of a detail of the Berlin discovery plate we deduce for the first time an astrometric position as well as other quantitative results. A proof is given for the co-discoverership of Witt's assistant observer F. Linke.
Acta Historica Astronomiae
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