|The north-east horizon as seen in Adelaide at 11 pm local daylight
saving time (10:00 pm non-daylight saving time) showing the location of
Vesta on 26 October. The inset is the binocular view of Vesta and the two prominent guide stars. (click to embiggen, similar views will
be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time).||The north-east horizon as seen in Adelaide at 10 pm local daylight
saving time (9:00 pm non-daylight saving time) showing the location of
Vesta on 12 November at opposition. The inset is the binocular view of Vesta and the two prominent guide stars. (click to embiggen, similar views will
be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time).|
The Asteroid 4 Vesta
is one of the iconic minor planets, and
one of two orbited by the Dawn spacecraft
. At favourable
oppositions Vesta is bright enough to be seen with the unaided eye under dark
sky conditions. Sadly this year it doesn't get that bright, but it will be easily visible in binoculars (getting up to magnitude 6.5, just below unaided eye visibility at dark sky sites).
Black and white binocular chart suitable for printing showing the
movement of 4 Vesta over the next 30 days. Click to embiggen and print. Use the charts above to get to the guide stars.
This year is a reasonable opposition of Vesta, when it will
reach a magnitude of 6.5 at its brightest. Vesta is at opposition on November 12. the ext bright opposition is 22 August in 2022 (magnitude 5.8) but there will be fewer good guide stars.
Vesta is however easily visible in binoculars, but you may
need to watch it over several nights to see it move and confirm its
This year Vesta has some excellent
signposts to it, just before and just after opposition Vest is withig binocular distance of the easily recognisable pair of omicron Tauri and xi Tauri (o and x on the printable charts) which form the foreleg of Taurus the Bull. The distinctive arrow shape of the head of Taurus , with bright red Alderbaran as its eye is easily seen above the north-eastern horizon, the ttip of the arrow points to the the next bright star (Lambda ƛ tau in the printable chart), from there sweep up and to the north (left) and the pair of omicron Tauri and xi Tauri are obvious. from there finding Vesta with the charts should be easy.
Sadly around opposition itself, the waxing Moon / full Moon will interfere significantly (although you should still be able to just see it in binoculars. However, there are several days before and after opposition where Vesta is bright and easily seen. 3-5 November may be best.
Labels: 4 Vesta, binocular, telescope