When searching for a particular asteroid or comet, it is best to use either
the IAU number, as in 433 for asteroid "433 Eros", or
the primary designation as in
1998 SF36 for asteroid "25143 (1998 SF36)".
However, using the asteroid/comet name will also work, as in Ceres for
asteroid "1 Ceres". If you don't remember the object's number,
name, or designation but you remember a part of the designation, you can use
wild-cards * and/or ? to assist. For example, suppose you
remember some asteroid having a designation of "#### XF11"
but you don't remember the "####" part. You can search for
* XF11 (note the space between * and XF11)
and you will see a list of matching designations at which
point you might recognize the correct year (e.g. "1997 XF11").
The search form recognizes IAU numbers, DASTCOM record numbers, designations,
names, and JPL SPK-ID numbers. Wild-card * matches zero or more characters
(including spaces) while wild-card ? matches a single character. For
example, a search for 2000 PH? will match "2000 PH1"
but not "2002 PH19", while a search for 2002 PH*
would have found both.
To find all "C/" comets, search using C/*.
Tips and Tricks
Searches are not case-sensitive. That means a seach for 1999 AN10
will be the same as a search for 1999 an10 and linear works
as well as LINEAR. Furthermore, for designations, the space can be omitted
which means a search for 1999an10 will also work.
As mentioned, if you know the objects IAU number, use it because the search
will be the fastest (and unabiguous). Wild-card searches are slow and care should
be exercised in their use. Searching for a* is probably a waste of both
your time and our server's resources. However, a search for Mueller*
will help in case you don't remember which Comet Mueller you wanted.
Although the search engine can handle entries such as 433 Eros, it is
faster to use either the number or the name but not both. Using both requires
a search for both the number and name which must match internally. If the number
and name do not match (e.g. 344 Eros), you may scratch your head for a
while wondering why until you notice the typo.