The Besta of Vesta

vesta-7oct   Yeah I know, the title is bad but it was the besta I could do at the moment.
   Asteroid Vesta, is the second largest asteroid in the main belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. It is also the second most massive asteroid after the former asteroid, now dwarf planet, Ceres. Vesta is also the brightest and easiest of the main belt asteroids to see from Earth, and this month could be a good time to dust off the binoculars or telescope and take a look.

   Asteroid Vesta rises at around 8 pm local time and is currently located within the western side of the constellation Cetus the Whale, and over the next several days will be passing by a 2nd magnitude star, Iota Ceti. That is the ‘dot’in the center of the binocular field.

click on graphic to see it larger   To be fair, taking a look at an asteroid, even one like Vesta, is about like looking at a star. In one night the only apparent movement of the object is from Earth rotation. However careful observing, perhaps making a sketch or taking a picture of the area of the sky where Vesta is located every couple of days the motion of the asteroid should become apparent as it will be the only ‘star’ moving relative to the other stars in your sketch or picture.
This animated graphic using inverted colors is simulating a view with 10×50 binoculars. It shows the movement of Vesta daily between the 8th and 31st of this month. Click here to see the same graphic with the regular colors.

   Get very specific observing information for your viewing location from the Heavens Above web site. Choosing your viewing location is as easy as zooming in on the Google map and setting the marker where you view from. Click on update to set your location. Once you have set your viewing location you can then choose from many options. Obviously choose asteroids, then choose Vesta!

   Learn more about Asteroid Vesta and Dwarf Planet Ceres at NASA’s Dawn Mission web site.

   Traverse the Vesta terrain at NASA’s Vesta Trek web site.


Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

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