June 16, 2019

AstroEvent of the Week: October 27th- November 2nd; A Halloween Asteroid.

This Halloween brings a chance to spot one of the brightest known asteroids. 4 Vesta is currently placed in the constellation Cetus, the Whale and will be in opposition on October 29th this year, and thus be visible in moonless skies nearly all night.

At magnitude +6.7 it’s the only asteroid that is potentially visible under dark skies. Discovered by Heinrich Olbers on March 29th, 1807, it has a diameter of 570 miles, and just misses the new definition of dwarf planet. Due their high density of olivine, the HED class of achondrite meteorites are thought to have originated from this tiny body.

This weeks’ astro-word of the week is minor planet . This term has been used for some time to denote rocky, irregular worlds, more commonly known as asteroids. These bodies are too small to have a round shape, and are thought to be remnants from the formation of the solar system. Ceres, formerly the first minor planet, now Pluto’d into the realm of the dwarf planets, was discovered on New Years Day, 1801.

Happy Halloween!

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