Asteroids

Asteroids might be tiny compared with the other bodies in the solar system, but they’re still important. Leftovers from the solar system’s earliest days, these rocks preserve the record of planet formation in their makeup. They also make for fun (and sometimes challenging) observing targets. Even more exciting is when near-Earth asteroids buzz Earth, not only giving us the chance to watch them zip through the sky but also to observe their shapes and compositions.

Here you’ll find facts, tips, and tricks for observing asteroids. Learn where to spot Ceres and Vesta, two of the largest asteroids and the focus of NASA’s Dawn mission. You can also join in larger asteroid search campaigns and share in the excitement of finding these roving space rocks.

Just Saying Hello

See a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid From Your Backyard

Get ready for 2014 JO25, the biggest asteroid to fly this close to Earth since 2004. Good news — even a 3-inch telescope will show it! Update: See below for a radar image and animation of 2014 JO25 captured by NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar on April 18, 2017. Every week, a handful of new Earth-approaching asteroids…

Paths of Vesta and Uranus in late 2004

Spot Vesta (and Uranus)

Two solar-system bodies just below naked-eye brightness can be found with binoculars in eastern Aquarius on October and November evenings: the minor planet 4 Vesta and Uranus.

Upcoming Asteroid Occultation

A few minutes before 5:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on December 24th, the 170-kilometer-wide minor planet 334 Chicago passes in front of the 8.5-magnitude star SAO97327 in Gemini. The nominal path for this event crosses Philadelphia (at about 9:57 Universal Time) and continues westward across Lake Michigan, just north of the city after which the…