2007 is the 200th Anniversary year of the discovery of the asteroid Vesta.

During the last couple of days of May and early in June, Vesta will “shine” at 5.4 magnitude in the night sky and will be visible to the human eye, using only binoculars. Its surface material is very bright and highly reflective (of the sun’s energy), providing us with the only asteroid visible to the human eye with little or no help. The human eye can see magnitude 6.0 without visual supporting aides, but a pair of binoculars or a modest telescope will help.

Right now, Vesta is seen in the constellation known as Ophiuchus, 10 degrees NW of planet Jupiter.

Vesta is visible to us at this time, because it is not only large, but also passing within 1.14 Austonomical Units (AU’s) of Earth. It is the fourth asteroid to be discovered and also the fourth largest, at 334 miles (538 kilometers) in diameter.

NASA is set to launch a vessel to study the asteroids (also protoplanets) Vesta and another asteroid, Ceres, in 2011 and 2015.





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