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Pallas, the second asteroid to be discovered reaches opposition on February 22, 2014. Peaking at magnitude +7.0, the asteroid will be readily visible in popular 7x50 or 10x50 binoculars for a number of weeks after opposition, slowly weaving its way through the constellations of Hydra and Sextans.

History

Pallas was discovered by German physician and astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers on March 28, 1802. It has a diameter of 544 kilometres (338 miles) making it the second largest body in the main asteroid belt. Along with Ceres the only other asteroid discovered at that time, Pallas was initially classified as a planet in its own right and subsequently given its own planetary symbol. Later, after more similar small objects - all in the region between Mars and Jupiter - had been discovered the general term asteroids was coined to describe them.

In 1807, Olbers also discovered Vesta the brightest of all asteroids.

Pallas by the Hubble Space Telescope (NASA/ESA/The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)

Location and Star Chart

Against the background stars, Pallas is currently moving slowing in a northwestern direction. During February and March it spends most of the time in the constellation of Hydra, except from February 23rd to March 4th when it cuts through the corner of Sextans. During this time the brightness of the asteroid does not change significantly. At the start of February, Pallas shone at magnitude +7.3, increases to +7.0 for a few days either side of opposition on February 22nd before decreasing again to magnitude +7.6 at the end of March. With binoculars and a small telescopes the asteroid should be easy to spot and it's movement noticeable over the course of a few nights.

Although it's the largest constellation in the sky, Hydra contains only one notably bright star, Alphard (α Hya). At magnitude +2.0, Alphard is the same brightness as the North Pole star, Polaris (α UMi). On March 2nd, Pallas is positioned just over 3.5 degrees west of Alphard.

Pallas is visible just after sunset and remains so for the remainder of the evening. It's better placed from tropical regions where it appears high in the sky. During February and for most of March, Southern Hemisphere observers have it slightly better than their Northern counterparts. It's best to look for Pallas from a dark site away from light pollution when the Moon is absent from the sky.

The finder chart below show the positions of Pallas from February 3 to March 25, 2014.

Pallas finder chart from February 3 to March 25, 2014

Pallas finder chart from February 3 to March 25, 2014 - pdf format

Pallas Data Table - February/March 2014

DateRA (J2000)DEC (J2000)Apparent MagnitudeConstellation
February 01,201410h 02m 05s-19d 01m 53s7.3Hydra
February 02,201410h 01m 29s-18d 47m 04s7.3Hydra
February 03,201410h 00m 51s-18d 31m 42s7.3Hydra
February 04,201410h 00m 13s-18d 15m 46s7.3Hydra
February 05,201409h 59m 34s-17d 59m 18s7.2Hydra
February 06,201409h 58m 55s-17d 42m 16s7.2Hydra
February 07,201409h 58m 14s-17d 24m 42s7.2Hydra
February 08,201409h 57m 33s-17d 06m 36s7.2Hydra
February 09,201409h 56m 52s-16d 47m 59s7.2Hydra
February 10,201409h 56m 10s-16d 28m 50s7.1Hydra
February 11,201409h 55m 27s-16d 09m 11s7.1Hydra
February 12,201409h 54m 44s-15d 49m 02s7.1Hydra
February 13,201409h 54m 01s-15d 28m 24s7.1Hydra
February 14,201409h 53m 18s-15d 07m 17s7.1Hydra
February 15,201409h 52m 35s-14d 45m 43s7.1Hydra
February 16,201409h 51m 52s-14d 23m 42s7.0Hydra
February 17,201409h 51m 08s-14d 01m 15s7.0Hydra
February 18,201409h 50m 25s-13d 38m 24s7.0Hydra
February 19,201409h 49m 42s-13d 15m 09s7.0Hydra
February 20,201409h 48m 60s-12d 51m 31s7.0Hydra
February 21,201409h 48m 18s-12d 27m 32s7.0Hydra
February 22,201409h 47m 36s-12d 03m 12s7.0Hydra
February 23,201409h 46m 54s-11d 38m 34s7.0Hydra
February 24,201409h 46m 14s-11d 13m 37s7.0Sextans
February 25,201409h 45m 34s-10d 48m 25s7.0Sextans
February 26,201409h 44m 54s-10d 22m 57s7.0Sextans
February 27,201409h 44m 16s-09d 57m 15s7.0Sextans
February 28,201409h 43m 38s-09d 31m 21s7.0Sextans
March 01,201409h 43m 01s-09d 05m 17s7.0Sextans
March 02,201409h 42m 26s-08d 39m 03s7.0Sextans
March 03,201409h 41m 51s-08d 12m 41s7.0Sextans
March 04,201409h 41m 18s-07d 46m 13s7.0Sextans
March 05,201409h 40m 45s-07d 19m 40s7.0Hydra
March 06,201409h 40m 14s-06d 53m 04s7.0Hydra
March 07,201409h 39m 45s-06d 26m 26s7.0Hydra
March 08,201409h 39m 16s-05d 59m 48s7.1Hydra
March 09,201409h 38m 50s-05d 33m 10s7.1Hydra
March 10,201409h 38m 24s-05d 06m 36s7.1Hydra
March 11,201409h 38m 00s-04d 40m 04s7.1Hydra
March 12,201409h 37m 38s-04d 13m 38s7.1Hydra
March 13,201409h 37m 17s-03d 47m 18s7.2Hydra
March 14,201409h 36m 57s-03d 21m 06s7.2Hydra
March 15,201409h 36m 40s-02d 55m 03s7.2Hydra
March 16,201409h 36m 24s-02d 29m 09s7.2Hydra
March 17,201409h 36m 09s-02d 03m 27s7.3Hydra
March 18,201409h 35m 57s-01d 37m 56s7.3Hydra
March 19,201409h 35m 45s-01d 12m 39s7.3Hydra
March 20,201409h 35m 36s-00d 47m 35s7.3Hydra
March 21,201409h 35m 28s-00d 22m 47s7.4Hydra
March 22,201409h 35m 22s00d 01m 46s7.4Hydra
March 23,201409h 35m 18s00d 26m 03s7.4Hydra
March 24,201409h 35m 16s00d 50m 02s7.4Hydra
March 25,201409h 35m 15s01d 13m 43s7.5Hydra
March 26,201409h 35m 16s01d 37m 05s7.5Hydra
March 27,201409h 35m 19s02d 00m 08s7.5Hydra
March 28,201409h 35m 23s02d 22m 51s7.5Hydra
March 29,201409h 35m 30s02d 45m 13s7.6Hydra
March 30,201409h 35m 38s03d 07m 15s7.6Hydra
March 31,201409h 35m 47s03d 28m 55s7.6Hydra