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RE: Vesta
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Vesta will be positioned right beside the bright star named Algieba (Gamma Leonis) on the night of closest approach, making identification much easier. Algieba is a famous naked-eye double star near the even brighter star Regulus in the head of Leo the Lion. On the night of Feb. 16, Vesta will be positioned smack dab between the two components of this naked-eye double star. Vesta will be the faintest of the three objects but not by much. Looking the night before and the night after will help clinch the identification because of the asteroids slow motion relative to the two stars. Algieba will be located due east and about a third of the way up in the sky at 8 p.m. Feb. 16. The orange-coloured planet Mars will be shining brightly a little more than a hand-span above Algieba and Vesta.
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Astronomers have learned that Vesta reflects 25 percent of all sunlight falling onto its surface, and this accounts for its relatively great brightness (the moon, by comparison, reflects only 12 percent). As a result, Vesta holds the distinction of being the brightest of all asteroids, occasionally appearing to binoculars or even the unaided eye from a dark rural site. Right now is one of those times - a time known as Vesta's "opposition."
Opposition, as regular readers of this column might recall, is a time when a solar system body appears opposite in the sky from the sun.

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Finding Vesta
Peter Becker

The asteroid Vesta may be seen moving through the constellation Leo the Lion. Leo is visible low in the east in mid-January, between 8 and 9 p.m., and is higher in the sky as night progresses. Bright reddish Mars is just off the chart to the right. Look for bright star Regulus, and the "backward question mark" of stars extending from Regulus. With binoculars, watch Vesta as it passes between the stars Gamma and 40 Leonis, next month.

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Potato-shaped asteroid Vesta will soon be bright enough that you can actually (but barely) see it with unaided eyes, if you are in dark, rural location and have a good star chart. It is easy to see with binoculars, and is in the eastern sky this evening.
Binocular users can watch Vesta gradually move through Leo, passing close to Gamma Leonis on the evenings on February 16 and 17. In fact, it will pass tightly between Gamma and a +5th magnitude star, 40 Leonis.

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Ed ~ On the 20th February, 2010, the asteroid Vesta will be at opposition (See previous posts).


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Google Earth file (3KB, KMZ)

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Asteroid (4) Vesta
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Asteroid (4) Vesta

Magnitude:        7.1
Phase:             19 °
Distance:          1.7374 AU
Solar Distance:  2.4392 AU

Position(2000): RA  10h41m26.54s, Dec:+14°15'12.6"

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Magnitude 7.4 asteroid (4) Vesta will occult the magnitude 11.9 star (TYC 0845 - 00848 - 1) in the constellation Leo, at 07:03 UT, 17th December, 2009.
The 67.3 second long event will be visible from Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

Position (2000): RA 10 35 29.0445 Dec +13 39 45.041

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The magnitude 8.4 asteroid (4) Vesta  passed 1/3° south of the magnitude 6.58 yellow G-type giant star 35 Cancri, on the 12th September, 2009

Position (2000): RA 08h35m19.4455s, Dec     +19°35'24.226"


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11:43 GMT, 13th September, 2009.

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On the 20th February, 2010, the asteroid Vesta will be at opposition. There is no opposition in 2009.
The dwarf planet will brighten to magnitude 6.1 in constellation Leo.

Ephemeris
Date       UT      R.A. (J2000) Decl.    Delta     r     El.    Ph.   V  
h m s
2010 02 01 000000 10 33 16.9 +17 22 15 1.474 2.412 157.1 9.1 6.4
2010 02 02 000000 10 32 34.7 +17 30 36 1.468 2.411 158.2 8.7 6.4
2010 02 03 000000 10 31 51.1 +17 39 02 1.463 2.410 159.3 8.3 6.4
2010 02 04 000000 10 31 06.0 +17 47 30 1.458 2.409 160.5 7.9 6.4
2010 02 05 000000 10 30 19.7 +17 56 01 1.453 2.408 161.6 7.4 6.3
2010 02 06 000000 10 29 32.0 +18 04 35 1.448 2.407 162.6 7.0 6.3
2010 02 07 000000 10 28 43.2 +18 13 10 1.444 2.406 163.7 6.6 6.3
2010 02 08 000000 10 27 53.1 +18 21 45 1.440 2.405 164.7 6.2 6.3
2010 02 09 000000 10 27 01.9 +18 30 21 1.436 2.404 165.8 5.8 6.3
2010 02 10 000000 10 26 09.7 +18 38 57 1.432 2.403 166.7 5.4 6.2
2010 02 11 000000 10 25 16.5 +18 47 31 1.429 2.403 167.7 5.0 6.2
2010 02 12 000000 10 24 22.4 +18 56 04 1.426 2.402 168.5 4.7 6.2
2010 02 13 000000 10 23 27.5 +19 04 35 1.423 2.401 169.3 4.4 6.2
2010 02 14 000000 10 22 31.7 +19 13 02 1.421 2.400 170.0 4.1 6.2
2010 02 15 000000 10 21 35.3 +19 21 26 1.419 2.399 170.6 3.9 6.1
2010 02 16 000000 10 20 38.3 +19 29 46 1.417 2.398 171.0 3.7 6.1
2010 02 17 000000 10 19 40.8 +19 38 00 1.415 2.397 171.3 3.6 6.1
2010 02 18 000000 10 18 42.8 +19 46 09 1.414 2.396 171.4 3.6 6.1
2010 02 19 000000 10 17 44.5 +19 54 12 1.413 2.395 171.3 3.6 6.1
2010 02 20 000000 10 16 45.9 +20 02 09 1.412 2.394 171.0 3.7 6.1
2010 02 21 000000 10 15 47.1 +20 09 57 1.412 2.393 170.6 3.9 6.1
2010 02 22 000000 10 14 48.2 +20 17 39 1.412 2.392 170.0 4.1 6.1
2010 02 23 000000 10 13 49.3 +20 25 11 1.412 2.391 169.3 4.4 6.2
2010 02 24 000000 10 12 50.4 +20 32 35 1.412 2.390 168.5 4.7 6.2
2010 02 25 000000 10 11 51.7 +20 39 50 1.413 2.389 167.6 5.1 6.2
2010 02 26 000000 10 10 53.3 +20 46 54 1.414 2.388 166.7 5.5 6.2
2010 02 27 000000 10 09 55.1 +20 53 49 1.415 2.387 165.8 5.9 6.2
2010 02 28 000000 10 08 57.3 +21 00 33 1.416 2.386 164.7 6.3 6.2
2010 03 01 000000 10 08 00.1 +21 07 06 1.418 2.385 163.7 6.7 6.2
2010 03 02 000000 10 07 03.3 +21 13 27 1.420 2.384 162.6 7.1 6.3


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Ephemeris

Date TT R. A. (2000) Decl. Delta r Elong. Phase V
2008 12 01    02 05.60   +02 55.9    1.701    2.539   140.3    14.4     7.0
2008 12 06 02 03.35 +03 05.9 1.748 2.542 135.0 15.9 7.1
2008 12 11 02 01.79 +03 20.0 1.799 2.544 129.8 17.3 7.2
2008 12 16 02 00.93 +03 38.0 1.854 2.546 124.7 18.5 7.3
2008 12 21 02 00.75 +03 59.6 1.912 2.548 119.8 19.6 7.4
2008 12 26 02 01.24 +04 24.5 1.973 2.551 115.1 20.4 7.5


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