Punctual seven centuries after Dante's death, the asteroid Divinacommedia has greeted the Earth and photographed by the astrophysicist who discovered it 20 years ago, Gianluca Masi, scientific manager of the Virtual Telescope project and coordinator for Italy of the Asteroid Day.
Last June the International Astronomical Union (IAU) officially assigned the name "Divinacommedia" to the asteroid (65487) 2003 CD20 on the proposal of Masi, who discovered it on February 9, 2003 with his colleague René Michelsen. "A denomination - observes Masi - that celebrates Dante Alighieri's universal masterpiece 700 years after his death", referring to "a work that includes many of the most refined astronomical knowledge at the time of the Supreme Poet, whose references to the cosmos are protagonists in some of the higher lines of the Comedy ".
Curiously, the astrophysicist continues, "(65487) Divine Comedy is visible in the sky precisely in correspondence with this important Dante anniversary". For Masi, "seeing that 'cosmic stone', then anonymous and now linked to one of the most important literary works in human history, after so many years, moved me very much".
The asteroid (65487) 2003 CD20 was discovered on the night of February 9, 2003, while Masi was in Chile. 2003 CD20 was immediately noticed by Masi in some images obtained to measure the position of another asteroid, the latter of the near-Earth type. The intruder was new and thus received the provisional designation 2003 CD20 from the Minor Planet Center. A few years later, having reached a good knowledge of its orbit around the Sun, it obtained a definitive number, ready to receive a name.