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Saturday, February 20, 2010


Opposition of Vesta from Mars

Left Panel, asteroid Vesta as seen from Mars on the 11th of February (for Earth reference see here), Right Panel, Vesta as seen from Mars at the time of Opposition on Mars on & May 2010. Image visualized in Stellarium, location approximately latitude of Adelaide on Mars (as always, click to embiggen).

In my series of posts about seeing things from other worlds, (opposition of Mars from Mars and Venus), I'm having a look at the opposition of the asteroid Vesta. (My photographs and sketches here and here) Vesta is just visible to the unaided eye at the moment (if you are some place far from city lights). Mars is much closer to Vesta than Earth, how would Vesta look there?

Well, it's still a featureless dot, but it's much brighter. At opposition, it's a bit under magnitude 5, which means you could see it from the suburbs (if you had suburbs on Mars). However, as Mars's orbital plane is a bit angled to that of Earth's, Mars doesn't see Vesta glide between 40 and gamma Leonis, but sees it not far from the bright star Denebola in the tail of the Lion, rather than in the Head, as we see it.

Vesta's position in relation to Earth and Mars on 22 February and & March 2010, respectively. Mars's opposition of Vesta is much later than ours, as It has to catch up with the slower moving Vesta, while speedy Earth has already passed it by. Orbits visualised in Celestia.

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