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Thursday, March 06, 2014


Seeing Vesta (and Ceres) in Binoculars, March 2014

Evening sky on Saturday March 8 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 pm ACDST in South Australia. The asteroid Vesta is just below Mars, and easily visible in binoculars. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).Higher power view of the region near Vesta whic is approximately a binoculars field of vision (see b7w map below. Ceres is visible dimly below it (click to embiggen). Use the wide field map to the left for orientation.

Vesta (and Ceres) is now rising before midnight. Currently around magnitude 6.5, it is readily visible in binoculars (and a lot easier to spot than Pallas). Vesta is relatively easy to find, below Mars (and Ceres is in turn below Vesta, but much dimmer at magnitude 7.5, still visible in 10x50 binoculars under dark skies though). Vesta can be seen to move from night to night, brightening gradually, and reaching unaided eye threshold by the end of the month. Ceres also brightens and becomes easier to see.

Black and white binocular chart suitable for printing (click to embiggen and print). The circle represents the field of view of 10x50 binoculars.

Seeing both the past and current targets of the Dawn mission together is kind of fun.

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