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Vesta the brightest asteroid has just passed opposition (Sep 29th) and remains bright enough during October to be easily seen with binoculars or small scopes. The asteroid is visible as soon as it's dark enough and remains so for most of the night as it moves retrograde among the stars of western Cetus. At favourable oppositions Vesta can even be glimpsed with the naked eye but on this occasion it didn't quite reach that, peaking at mag. +6.2

Vesta imaged on September 5, 2012 by the departing NASA Dawn spacecraft (credit - NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

Discovery

Vesta was the fourth asteroid to be discovered on March 29, 1807 by German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers. Although it's the third largest body in the main asteroid belt after Ceres and Pallas it appears the brightest due to its more reflective surface and closer approach's to Earth.

Location

During October, Vesta appears above the southeast / east horizon in early evening. It cuts through the inside corner of a triangle of stars consisting of iota Cet (ι Cet - mag. +3.6), beta Cet (β Cet - mag. +2.0) and eta Cet (η Cet - mag +3.5) as the month progresses. Of the three stars the asteroid is positioned closest to ι Cet passing less than 2 degrees south of it around the middle of the month.

The star charts below show the location of Vesta. Throughout October it remains easily visible with binoculars despite dimming from mag. +6.2 to +6.8.

Vesta from mid-northern latitudes during October in early evening (credit:- freestarcharts)

Vesta from mid-southern latitudes during October in early evening (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder chart for Vesta during October 2015 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder chart for Vesta during October 2015 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)


Vesta Data Table - October 2015

DateRA (J2000)DEC (J2000)Apparent MagnitudeConstellation
Oct 0100h 37m 27s-09d 02m 26s6.2Cetus
Oct 0200h 36m 31s-09d 08m 15s6.2Cetus
Oct 0300h 35m 35s-09d 13m 53s6.3Cetus
Oct 0400h 34m 39s-09d 19m 22s6.3Cetus
Oct 0500h 33m 43s-09d 24m 40s6.3Cetus
Oct 0600h 32m 48s-09d 29m 47s6.3Cetus
Oct 0700h 31m 53s-09d 34m 42s6.3Cetus
Oct 0800h 30m 59s-09d 39m 25s6.3Cetus
Oct 0900h 30m 04s-09d 43m 57s6.4Cetus
Oct 1000h 29m 11s-09d 48m 15s6.4Cetus
Oct 1100h 28m 18s-09d 52m 22s6.4Cetus
Oct 1200h 27m 26s-09d 56m 15s6.4Cetus
Oct 1300h 26m 34s-09d 59m 54s6.4Cetus
Oct 1400h 25m 43s-10d 03m 21s6.5Cetus
Oct 1500h 24m 54s-10d 06m 34s6.5Cetus
Oct 1600h 24m 05s-10d 09m 32s6.5Cetus
Oct 1700h 23m 17s-10d 12m 17s6.5Cetus
Oct 1800h 22m 30s-10d 14m 48s6.5Cetus
Oct 1900h 21m 44s-10d 17m 05s6.6Cetus
Oct 2000h 20m 60s-10d 19m 07s6.6Cetus
Oct 2100h 20m 16s-10d 20m 55s6.6Cetus
Oct 2200h 19m 34s-10d 22m 29s6.6Cetus
Oct 2300h 18m 54s-10d 23m 49s6.6Cetus
Oct 2400h 18m 14s-10d 24m 54s6.7Cetus
Oct 2500h 17m 36s-10d 25m 45s6.7Cetus
Oct 2600h 16m 59s-10d 26m 22s6.7Cetus
Oct 2700h 16m 24s-10d 26m 45s6.7Cetus
Oct 2800h 15m 50s-10d 26m 54s6.8Cetus
Oct 2900h 15m 18s-10d 26m 49s6.8Cetus
Oct 3000h 14m 47s-10d 26m 30s6.8Cetus
Oct 3100h 14m 17s-10d 25m 57s6.8Cetus