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Cosmic Challenge: Glimpsing Vesta

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#1 PhilH

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Posted 01 June 2018 - 06:39 AM

Vesta turns out to be more like a mini-planet than like the chunks of rock most think of as asteroids. Dawn's measurements of the gravity field provided good evidence that Vesta's interior is separated into layers, much like Earth did as the planet was forming. Vesta's dense core - apparently once molten, but now solidified - is composed principally of iron and nickel, just like Earth's. Estimates place it at 125 to 150 miles (200 to 250 kilometers) across. Surrounding that is the mantle, which in turn is covered by the veneer of the crust, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) thick. It is now believed that early on Vesta was likely still accumulating material to become a full-fledged planet when Jupiter's immense gravity intervened, putting a stop to that. As a result, when we look at Vesta, many believe that we are seeing a protoplanet frozen in time.

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#2 Augustus

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Posted 01 June 2018 - 03:21 PM

I ought to try this. My neighborhood has a limiting magnitude of 5.5 or so on good nights (rare in summer, but I can dream), so it's within the realm of possibility.

 

I wonder if my 16" will show it as a disk....


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#3 ericthemantis

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 01:05 PM

I ought to try this. My neighborhood has a limiting magnitude of 5.5 or so on good nights (rare in summer, but I can dream), so it's within the realm of possibility.

 

I wonder if my 16" will show it as a disk....

525 km across and ~127.8 million km away is just less than 1 arc second across. Venus is currently 14 arc seconds across, so you'd need about 100x more magnification than what you'd use to view Venus if you want the same view. Am I mathing that right? You should post a picture if you do!


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#4 BoY

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 07:05 AM

This morning before dawn, I had a look at Vesta. It’s very close to M23. M23 is easy to locate, its center is only 38’ from Vesta, easily falling to the same field of view of my eyepiece.

 

Vesta is only 0.6” per SkySafari. My telescope’s resolving power is about 1’. Vesta shows up as a point light source, but a very bright one. Its color is a little yellowish. It’s really standout because it’s really different from its neighboring stars.

 

I had to see it with telescope. The night light in neighbor’s yard is blindingly bright. 


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#5 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 07:12 PM

Phil:

 

Thanks for heads up on Vesta . I am not sure if i saw it naked eye, the skies were certainly dark enough,  I thought saw it. .. 

 

In any event , watching it move from one night to the next as it passed near M23 was quite interesting.  So often it seems that I work hard on some faint object while missing something as remarkable as the motion of an asteroid. 

 

Jon


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#6 optinuke

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 06:32 PM

Phil,

 

From home there wasn't much point in trying to see this naked-eye, but the view a few nights ago with a 16" was nice since M23 was close by in the same FOV.  The yellow tint of Vesta was prominent. 

 

It's an easy object for a 5 to 10 second exposure with a tripod-mounted camera.

 

Jay


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#7 Augustus

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Posted 18 June 2018 - 08:55 AM

525 km across and ~127.8 million km away is just less than 1 arc second across. Venus is currently 14 arc seconds across, so you'd need about 100x more magnification than what you'd use to view Venus if you want the same view. Am I mathing that right? You should post a picture if you do!

My 16" has a theoretical resolving power of 0.3". It has a 1/8 wave PV mirror and we have good seeing around here most of the time, so it should be possible. Going to use 720x to attempt to see the disk.

 

Now for the weather to just be good and stay that way....


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#8 kcb

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 08:44 PM

I have been tracking vesta for several weeks with canon 10x42IS binoculars and have spotted it naked eyes twice in transparent sky conditions


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#9 SNH

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 04:29 PM

Glad for your article, Phil! A bright naked-eye asteroid is always something that adds depth to my mental picture of the solar system (especially with Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter in the same sky)! Its a fairly easy sight for me write now under my dark skies, thought it was pretty hard when it passed close to M23!

 

Scott


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#10 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 02:25 PM

I observed 4 Vesta again on Monday night from the ASH Naylor Observatory.  This time I used 15x70s, a 5" f/5 refractor, and the 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain.  As seen through the 17" scope, Vesta displayed a yellowish tint that a fellow ASH member and I noted.

 

Dave Mitsky


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#11 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 14 July 2018 - 01:27 PM

While doing a planetary marathon last night from the Naylor Observatory, I observed 4 Vesta once again using 15x70s, a 5" f/5 refractor, and the 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain.  The seeing and transparency were mediocre and this time the asteroid's yellow tint was a bit harder to discern.

 

Dave Mitsky


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