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Vesta the brightest asteroid or minor planet is currently easily visible with binoculars and small telescopes as it reaches opposition on June 20th. In addition, this opposition is extremely favourable and keen eyed observers, from dark locations, may even be able to glimpse the asteroid with the naked eye. Vesta shines at magnitude +5.3 for a few days either side of June 20th. It stays above magnitude +6.0 until the middle of July, and remains bright enough to be easily followed for the next few months with binoculars and small scopes.

Vesta as imaged by the NASA Dawn spacecraft (credit:- NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)


Vesta was the fourth asteroid to be discovered on March 29, 1807 by German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers. With a diameter 530 kilometres (330 miles) it's the third largest body in the main asteroid belt after Ceres and Pallas. However, Vesta is the brightest asteroid because it approaches closer to Earth and has a higher albedo or reflective surface.


The asteroid starts June moving retrograde in Sagittarius, a few degrees west of the Sagittarius star cloud (M24). At the start of the month, Saturn (mag. 0.0) is positioned 5 degrees southeast of Vesta. The much brighter ringed planet is also moving retrograde, although at a much slower pace, and reaches opposition on June 27th. On June 15th, Vesta passed less than half a degree south of magnitude +6.9 globular cluster, M23. It then crosses the constellation boundary into Ophiuchus on June 28th, where it remains until the beginning of September. During June, Vesta is effectively visible all night long, rising in the east at sunset and setting in the west as the Sun reappears on the opposite side of the sky. However, from about June 23rd to 30th the bright Moon nearby will somewhat interfere with observations.

With a declination of about -20 degrees, Vesta like Saturn is currently much better placed from southern and tropical locations. It appears higher in the sky and has a longer visibility period than from northern temperate latitudes. At opposition it will be 1.142 AU (approx. 170.8 million kilometres or 106.2 million miles) distant from Earth.

Vesta opposition finder chart from June 4 to July 30, 2018 - Finder Chart (credit:-

Vesta opposition finder chart from June 4 to July 30, 2018 - Finder Chart - pdf format (credit:-

Vesta Data Table

DateRA (J2000)DEC (J2000)Apparent Mag.Constellation
May 1518h 18m 43.0s-17d 52m 27.2s6.2Sagittarius
May 1618h 18m 28.2s-17d 54m 18.0s6.1Sagittarius
May 1718h 18m 11.4s-17d 56m 14.1s6.1Sagittarius
May 1818h 17m 52.5s-17d 58m 15.3s6.1Sagittarius
May 1918h 17m 31.6s-18d 00m 21.8s6.1Sagittarius
May 2018h 17m 08.7s-18d 02m 33.5s6.0Sagittarius
May 2118h 16m 43.8s-18d 04m 50.5s6.0Sagittarius
May 2218h 16m 16.9s-18d 07m 12.7s6.0Sagittarius
May 2318h 15m 48.1s-18d 09m 40.1s6.0Sagittarius
May 2418h 15m 17.4s-18d 12m 12.8s5.9Sagittarius
May 2518h 14m 44.8s-18d 14m 50.6s5.9Sagittarius
May 2618h 14m 10.4s-18d 17m 33.5s5.9Sagittarius
May 2718h 13m 34.2s-18d 20m 21.5s5.9Sagittarius
May 2818h 12m 56.2s-18d 23m 14.4s5.8Sagittarius
May 2918h 12m 16.4s-18d 26m 12.3s5.8Sagittarius
May 3018h 11m 35.0s-18d 29m 15.1s5.8Sagittarius
May 3118h 10m 51.9s-18d 32m 22.5s5.8Sagittarius
Jun 0118h 10m 07.2s-18d 35m 34.6s5.8Sagittarius
Jun 0218h 09m 21.0s-18d 38m 51.3s5.7Sagittarius
Jun 0318h 08m 33.2s-18d 42m 12.3s5.7Sagittarius
Jun 0418h 07m 44.1s-18d 45m 37.6s5.7Sagittarius
Jun 0518h 06m 53.5s-18d 49m 07.0s5.7Sagittarius
Jun 0618h 06m 01.6s-18d 52m 40.5s5.6Sagittarius
Jun 0718h 05m 08.5s-18d 56m 17.8s5.6Sagittarius
Jun 0818h 04m 14.2s-18d 59m 58.8s5.6Sagittarius
Jun 0918h 03m 18.8s-19d 03m 43.3s5.6Sagittarius
Jun 1018h 02m 22.4s-19d 07m 31.2s5.5Sagittarius
Jun 1118h 01m 25.0s-19d 11m 22.4s5.5Sagittarius
Jun 1218h 00m 26.7s-19d 15m 16.5s5.5Sagittarius
Jun 1317h 59m 27.7s-19d 19m 13.6s5.5Sagittarius
Jun 1417h 58m 28.0s-19d 23m 13.4s5.4Sagittarius
Jun 1517h 57m 27.8s-19d 27m 15.7s5.4Sagittarius
Jun 1617h 56m 27.0s-19d 31m 20.5s5.4Sagittarius
Jun 1717h 55m 25.8s-19d 35m 27.4s5.4Sagittarius
Jun 1817h 54m 24.4s-19d 39m 36.4s5.3Sagittarius
Jun 1917h 53m 22.7s-19d 43m 47.3s5.3Sagittarius
Jun 2017h 52m 21.0s-19d 47m 59.9s5.3Sagittarius
Jun 2117h 51m 19.2s-19d 52m 14.0s5.3Sagittarius
Jun 2217h 50m 17.5s-19d 56m 29.6s5.3Sagittarius
Jun 2317h 49m 16.0s-20d 00m 46.4s5.4Sagittarius
Jun 2417h 48m 14.8s-20d 05m 04.3s5.4Sagittarius
Jun 2517h 47m 14.0s-20d 09m 23.1s5.4Sagittarius
Jun 2617h 46m 13.5s-20d 13m 42.8s5.5Sagittarius
Jun 2717h 45m 13.7s-20d 18m 03.1s5.5Sagittarius
Jun 2817h 44m 14.4s-20d 22m 23.9s5.5Sagittarius
Jun 2917h 43m 15.8s-20d 26m 45.2s5.5Ophiuchus
Jun 3017h 42m 18.1s-20d 31m 06.7s5.5Ophiuchus
Jul 0117h 41m 21.2s-20d 35m 28.4s5.6Ophiuchus
Jul 0217h 40m 25.2s-20d 39m 50.1s5.6Ophiuchus
Jul 0317h 39m 30.3s-20d 44m 11.8s5.6Ophiuchus
Jul 0417h 38m 36.4s-20d 48m 33.4s5.7Ophiuchus
Jul 0517h 37m 43.8s-20d 52m 54.8s5.7Ophiuchus
Jul 0617h 36m 52.4s-20d 57m 15.8s5.7Ophiuchus
Jul 0717h 36m 02.3s-21d 01m 36.5s5.7Ophiuchus
Jul 0817h 35m 13.5s-21d 05m 56.7s5.8Ophiuchus
Jul 0917h 34m 26.3s-21d 10m 16.5s5.8Ophiuchus
Jul 1017h 33m 40.5s-21d 14m 35.7s5.8Ophiuchus
Jul 1117h 32m 56.4s-21d 18m 54.3s5.8Ophiuchus
Jul 1217h 32m 13.8s-21d 23m 12.3s5.8Ophiuchus
Jul 1317h 31m 33.0s-21d 27m 29.6s5.9Ophiuchus
Jul 1417h 30m 53.9s-21d 31m 46.2s5.9Ophiuchus
Jul 1517h 30m 16.6s-21d 36m 02.1s5.9Ophiuchus
Jul 1617h 29m 41.1s-21d 40m 17.2s6.0Ophiuchus
Jul 1717h 29m 07.6s-21d 44m 31.6s6.0Ophiuchus
Jul 1817h 28m 35.9s-21d 48m 45.2s6.0Ophiuchus
Jul 1917h 28m 06.2s-21d 52m 58.0s6.0Ophiuchus
Jul 2017h 27m 38.5s-21d 57m 10.0s6.0Ophiuchus
Jul 2117h 27m 12.7s-22d 01m 21.1s6.1Ophiuchus
Jul 2217h 26m 49.0s-22d 05m 31.3s6.1Ophiuchus
Jul 2317h 26m 27.4s-22d 09m 40.6s6.1Ophiuchus
Jul 2417h 26m 07.7s-22d 13m 49.0s6.1Ophiuchus
Jul 2517h 25m 50.2s-22d 17m 56.4s6.2Ophiuchus
Jul 2617h 25m 34.7s-22d 22m 02.8s6.2Ophiuchus
Jul 2717h 25m 21.3s-22d 26m 08.3s6.2Ophiuchus
Jul 2817h 25m 09.9s-22d 30m 12.7s6.2Ophiuchus
Jul 2917h 25m 00.7s-22d 34m 16.0s6.3Ophiuchus
Jul 3017h 24m 53.5s-22d 38m 18.2s6.3Ophiuchus
Jul 3117h 24m 48.4s-22d 42m 19.3s6.3Ophiuchus
Aug 0117h 24m 45.4s-22d 46m 19.2s6.3Ophiuchus
Aug 0217h 24m 44.5s-22d 50m 18.0s6.3Ophiuchus
Aug 0317h 24m 45.6s-22d 54m 15.5s6.4Ophiuchus
Aug 0417h 24m 48.8s-22d 58m 11.7s6.4Ophiuchus
Aug 0517h 24m 54.1s-23d 02m 06.7s6.4Ophiuchus
Aug 0617h 25m 01.5s-23d 06m 00.4s6.4Ophiuchus
Aug 0717h 25m 10.9s-23d 09m 52.7s6.5Ophiuchus
Aug 0817h 25m 22.3s-23d 13m 43.6s6.5Ophiuchus
Aug 0917h 25m 35.8s-23d 17m 33.0s6.5Ophiuchus
Aug 1017h 25m 51.3s-23d 21m 21.1s6.5Ophiuchus
Aug 1117h 26m 08.8s-23d 25m 07.6s6.5Ophiuchus
Aug 1217h 26m 28.3s-23d 28m 52.6s6.6Ophiuchus
Aug 1317h 26m 49.8s-23d 32m 36.0s6.6Ophiuchus
Aug 1417h 27m 13.3s-23d 36m 17.8s6.6Ophiuchus
Aug 1517h 27m 38.7s-23d 39m 58.0s6.6Ophiuchus
Aug 1617h 28m 06.1s-23d 43m 36.4s6.7Ophiuchus
Aug 1717h 28m 35.4s-23d 47m 13.0s6.7Ophiuchus
Aug 1817h 29m 06.5s-23d 50m 47.8s6.7Ophiuchus
Aug 1917h 29m 39.5s-23d 54m 20.6s6.7Ophiuchus
Aug 2017h 30m 14.4s-23d 57m 51.5s6.7Ophiuchus
Aug 2117h 30m 51.1s-24d 01m 20.4s6.8Ophiuchus
Aug 2217h 31m 29.5s-24d 04m 47.1s6.8Ophiuchus
Aug 2317h 32m 09.7s-24d 08m 11.7s6.8Ophiuchus
Aug 2417h 32m 51.7s-24d 11m 34.0s6.8Ophiuchus
Aug 2517h 33m 35.3s-24d 14m 53.9s6.8Ophiuchus
Aug 2617h 34m 20.7s-24d 18m 11.5s6.9Ophiuchus
Aug 2717h 35m 07.7s-24d 21m 26.6s6.9Ophiuchus
Aug 2817h 35m 56.4s-24d 24m 39.1s6.9Ophiuchus
Aug 2917h 36m 46.6s-24d 27m 49.0s6.9Ophiuchus
Aug 3017h 37m 38.5s-24d 30m 56.2s6.9Ophiuchus
Aug 3117h 38m 31.9s-24d 34m 00.6s7.0Ophiuchus
Sep 0117h 39m 26.9s-24d 37m 02.1s7.0Ophiuchus
Sep 0217h 40m 23.4s-24d 40m 00.8s7.0Ophiuchus
Sep 0317h 41m 21.5s-24d 42m 56.4s7.0Ophiuchus
Sep 0417h 42m 21.0s-24d 45m 48.9s7.0Ophiuchus
Sep 0517h 43m 21.9s-24d 48m 38.3s7.0Ophiuchus
Sep 0617h 44m 24.4s-24d 51m 24.5s7.1Sagittarius
Sep 0717h 45m 28.2s-24d 54m 07.4s7.1Sagittarius
Sep 0817h 46m 33.5s-24d 56m 46.9s7.1Sagittarius
Sep 0917h 47m 40.1s-24d 59m 23.0s7.1Sagittarius
Sep 1017h 48m 48.1s-25d 01m 55.6s7.1Sagittarius
Sep 1117h 49m 57.5s-25d 04m 24.6s7.1Sagittarius
Sep 1217h 51m 08.2s-25d 06m 49.9s7.2Sagittarius
Sep 1317h 52m 20.1s-25d 09m 11.6s7.2Sagittarius
Sep 1417h 53m 33.4s-25d 11m 29.4s7.2Sagittarius