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Brightest Asteroid 4 Vesta Opposes Sun 2021 MAR 04

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The brightest asteroid 4 Vesta currently rises in the early evening at magnitude +6.2. It will appear within Leo in opposition to the Sun on 2021 MAR 04 at magnitude +5.8. That’s within the limit of normal naked eye visibility. Vesta was discovered in 1807, and has a mean diameter of 525 km.

Photos and descriptions of Vesta would be welcome additions to this thread.



Edited by CentaurZ
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I managed to observe Vesta yesterday with 20x80 binoculars at 10pm. It is just over 6-th magnitude and was roughly halfway between Denebola and Chertan (Theta Leonis), close to the 6-th magnitude star 88 Leonis. Here is a sketch:



I'll try to follow it over the next month whenever weather allows, it should get even brighter in a couple of weeks.

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An update from 18 February. Vesta is moving North -West still close to 88 Leonis. This is an image with  50mm F/1.8 on Canon 250D, stacked 18x 4s exposures. The time was 10pm on 18 Feb. The bright star in the lower left is Denebola.



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On 14/02/2021 at 17:05, CentaurZ said:

Photos and descriptions of Vesta would be welcome additions to this thread.


Thank you for for the heads up - been a while since I've imaged Vesta. Taken light night - 2021-02-18T23-11-08 to 2021-02-18T23-51-17 UTC. Starting point - 11:30:05.654+14:10:20.58 (J2000). Reduced in size so the gif isn't too large.

Edited by 7170
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I forgot to add, if you live in the UK then this is a great time to be looking for Vesta. If you observe at UTC 00:00:00 on Apr 9th/10th it will be at dec. c+18.7°, after which it start to get lower again. You will have to wait until September 2023 before it gets any higher than that in the sky here in the UK again. Thank you once again to @CentaurZ for jogging my mind on Vesta's opposition and ideal placement at the moment for UK observers.

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I had a look at 4 Vesta tonight with my 130mm refractor. At magnitude 5.9 it is easily visible in my 9x50 finder and currently forms a convenient pattern with stars between Chertan and Denobola in Leo:


It showed as a pale golden spot of light in the scope eyepiece. It's apparent diameter is around half an arc second so no point in trying to see it's disk !. 

After observing 4 Vesta, while warming up inside, I was prompted to have a look at 3 small specimens from my meteorite collection. These are samples of meteorites from the H.E.D. group, Howardite-Eucrite-Diogenite, achondrite meteorites formed by igneous processes on a differentiated parent world.

Current research points to a strong possibility that the asteroid 4 Vesta was the parent world for these space rocks which eventually fell to Earth after millions of years in space. Here are my little pieces of this interesting material:







Edited by John
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On 26/02/2021 at 22:59, Swithin StCleeve said:

Nice one! I'm hoping to do a similar thing. I enjoyed seeing it last night. 

During the past two days the Moon has been passing really close in this part of Leo, it is hard to see even 5-th magnitude stars with my finder. Should be better in a couple more days.  Let's hope the clear sky continues!

Edited by Nik271
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