Charts showing the path of Vesta in 2011:
27 January to 18 March 2011 8 March to 27 April 2011 27 April to December 2011
Vesta was at conjunction 2010 November 10 so is too close to the Sun for observation from early at the beginning of January 2011.
Positions of Vesta for 2011
Vesta will be a morning object moving through Sagittarius from mid January up to 2 April 2011 after which it moves into Capricornus until December when it enters Aquarius. It is stationary on June 24 after which it moves in a retrograde sense to the west until its second stationary position on 17 September when it resumes moving to the east.
Vesta is at opposition on August 5, when its magnitude will be 5.6. This will make it just visible to the unaided eye from a dark site on a moonless night - for those with sharp vision! It will of course be an easy binocular object
In the first half of the year, Vesta will principally be a morning object. By the beginning of July it will rise soon after 8pm NZST, so be reasonably easy to locate by 10 pm. During the first months of the year, Venus and Vesta will be moving on almost parallel paths. Venus will overtake the asteroid on February 9/10. In the morning sky on the 10th, Vesta and Venus will be just under half a degree apart, that is just less diameter of the full moon. A 4.86 magnitude star will be about a quarter degree from Vesta.
Vesta has a diameter of 530 km. The orbital period is 3.63 years, its distance from the Sun varying between 2.15 and 2.57 AU, the orbit having an eccentricity if 0.09. The orbit is inclined at 7.1° to the ecliptic. The opposition distance from the Earth varies between 1.14 AU and 1.57 AU.
Vesta's greatest distance from the Sun is only slightly more than Ceres' minimum distance. Vesta is the brightest of the asteroids, at the best oppositions it does become a faint naked eye object. It is the second largest asteroid, with a diameter just under 60% that of Ceres, but has a considerably lighter surface, reflecting some 42% of the light falling on it. This, combined with Vesta's closer approach to the Sun, means Vesta is usually the brightest asteroid.
Vesta was the fourth Minor Planet or Asteroid to be discovered, being first observed as a minor planet in 1807 by H W Olbers at Bremen. Because of its opposition brightness, it must, of course, have been seen naked eye many times before that, although as a faint star.
The chart is a southern hemisphere view with north at the bottom and east to the right. Stars to magnitude 9.5 are shown. Magnitudes are marked (without a decimal point) for stars brighter than 6.5. The circle on the chart represents a field of view 5° in diameter, a fairly typical field of view for binoculars.
The chart is a southern hemisphere view with north at the bottom and east to the right. Stars to magnitude 8.5 are shown. Magnitudes are marked (without a decimal point) for stars brighter than 6.5. The circle on the chart represents a field of view 5° in diameter, a fairly typical field of view for binoculars.
|Jan 17||17 34.0||-20 18||7.8||Ophiuchus|
|Jan 27||17 56.1||-20 38||7.8||Sagittarius|
|Feb 6||18 17.9||-20 46||7.8||Sagittarius|
|Feb 16||18 39.3||-20 43||7.8||Sagittarius|
|Feb 26||19 00.2||-20 32||7.8||Sagittarius|
|Mar 8||19 20.4||-20 12||7.7||Sagittarius|
|Mar 18||19 39.7||-19 46||7.7||Sagittarius|
|Mar 28||19 58.1||-19 16||7.6||Sagittarius|
|Apr 7||20 15.5||-18 43||7.5||Capricornus|
|Apr 17||20 31.6||-18 10||7.5||Capricornus|
|Apr 27||20 46.3||-17 39||7.4||Capricornus|
|May 7||20 59.4||-17 14||7.2||Capricornus|
|May 17||21 10.7||-16 56||7.1||Capricornus|
|May 27||21 19.8||-16 50||6.9||Capricornus|
|Jun 6||21 26.6||-16 59||6.8||Capricornus|
|Jun 16||21 30.6||-17 24||6.6||Capricornus|
|Jun 26||21 31.6||-18 07||6.4||Capricornus|
|Jul 6||21 29.5||-19 08||6.2||Capricornus|
|Jul 16||21 24.3||-20 22||6.0||Capricornus|
|Jul 26||21 16.6||-21 44||5.8||Capricornus|
|Aug 5||21 07.5||-23 03||5.6||Capricornus|
|Aug 15||20 58.1||-24 12||5.8||Capricornus|
|Aug 25||20 50.0||-25 04||6.1||Capricornus|
|Sep 4||20 44.2||-25 36||6.3||Capricornus|
|Sep 14||20 41.5||-25 48||6.6||Capricornus|
|Sep 24||20 41.9||-25 43||6.8||Capricornus|
|Oct 4||20 45.5||-25 22||7.0||Capricornus|
|Oct 14||20 51.7||-24 49||7.2||Capricornus|
|Oct 24||21 00.4||-24 04||7.4||Capricornus|
|Nov 3||21 10.9||-23 09||7.5||Capricornus|
|Nov 13||21 23.0||-22 05||7.7||Capricornus|
|Nov 23||21 36.4||-20 53||7.8||Capricornus|
|Dec 3||21 50.7||-19 32||7.9||Capricornus|
|Dec 13||22 05.7||-18 04||8.0||Aquarius|
|Dec 23||22 21.3||-16 30||8.1||Aquarius|
|2012 Jan 2||22 37.3||-14 51||8.1||Aquarius|