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Aten asteroid
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Aten asteroid

The Aten asteroids are a group of near-Earth asteroids, named after the first of the group to be discovered (2062 Aten, discovered January 7 1976 by Eleanor F. Helin). They have semi-major axes of less than one astronomical unit, placing them inside the orbit of Earth.

Nearly all known Aten asteroids have their aphelion greater than one AU. Those that have their aphelion entirely within the Earth's orbit are known as Apohele asteroids. As of May 2004 there are only two known Apoheles: 2003 CP20 and 2004 JG6.

The smallest semi-major axis is that of (66391) 1999 KW4, at 0.642 AU (its eccentricity of 0.688 takes it from a perihelion of 0.200 AU —well within Mercury's orbit!— to an aphelion of 1.084 AU), although 2004 JG6 seems to have an even smaller one (0.635 AU; eccentricity 0.532 ranging from 0.297 to 0.973 AU —enough to cross Venus' orbit but not Mercury's).

The list of Aten asteroids includes:

Name Year Discoverer
2004 FH 2004 LINEAR
2000 BD19 2000 LINEAR
(68347) 2001 KB67 2001 LINEAR
(66400) 1999 LT7 1999 LINEAR
(66391) 1999 KW4 1999 LINEAR
(66146) 1998 TU3 1998 LINEAR
(66063) 1998 RO1 1998 LINEAR
(65679) 1989 UQ 1989 Christian Pollas
(33342) 1998 WT24 1998 LINEAR
(5604) 1992 FE 1992 Robert H. McNaught
(5590) 1990 VA 1990 Spacewatch
5381 Sekhmet 1991 Carolyn Shoemaker
3753 Cruithne 1986 J. Duncan Waldron
3554 Amun 1986 Carolyn Shoemaker, Eugene Shoemaker
3362 Khufu 1984 R. Scott Dunbar, Maria A. Barucci
2340 Hathor 1976 Charles T. Kowal
2100 Ra-Shalom 1978 Eleanor F. Helin
2062 Aten 1976 Eleanor F. Helin

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(For a complete listing, see: List of asteroids)