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Vesta will be extremely close to the Beehive cluster in early December


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Vesta, The only bright asteroid I have not observed yet. After observing Ceres in Cetus and Pallas in Equuleus, the time has come and at a great time as well to observe the 2nd largest asteroid in our Solar System. I have put aside observing the main planets in the winter sky such as Venus, Uranus and Neptune and have started to challenge myself with looking for these mysterious wonderful objects. And Vesta is next on my list.

Vesta is currently in Cancer the crab, which is starting to emerge into our evenings with other well known winter constellations such as Orion, Gemini, Canis Major and Canis Minor. Though Cancer is a very faint constellation and even I myself can sometimes be searching around for it, but I over came this problem by looking for the two brightest stars in Gemini, Castor and Pollux, and using them as pointers to Alpha Cancri. But Cancer possesses probably some of my favorite night sky objects, Tegmine or Zeta Cancri, a beautiful 6th magnitude triple star system. Messier 67 a fantastic open star cluster. But my favorite object by far, The Beehive Cluster. A beautiful, breathtaking, dazzling display of stars in the shape of a beehive, When people say to me around the Christmas holidays and it's a clear sky outside and I'm asked " Show us something through your telescope! " With no hesitation I am already slewing to the Beehive Cluster. And now, Vesta is paying a visit to glorious cluster.

From now to mid December, Vesta will be to right of the Beehive and in early December it will be at it's closest to it. And at magnitude +7.1 on December 12th it will blend in quite nicely with the outer stars in the cluster. After it starts to move away from the Beehive and altogether leave Cancer and slowly ascending it's magnitude to +6.4 but only having a disc of 0.5 arc seconds.. It will be a nice object to observe over the winter, and a great photo opportunity with the Beehive! Clear Skies!

 

 

Vesta Stellarium2.jpeg

Vesta Stellarium.jpeg

Edited by A budding astronomer
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With all the excitement of so much to see over the last few days, forgot about Vesta. Just had a look and it's very close to the cluster and itself very close to a slightly fainter star. It's a bit hazy here tonight so not quite jewel like views !

 

andrew

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