Spot Vesta (and Uranus)

Paths of Vesta and Uranus in late 2004
Click on the image to see a larger chart that includes Uranus.
Sky & Telescope: Casey B. Reed.
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 loops through the dim “water streams” pouring from Aquarius’s bucket. It dims from magnitude 6.4 on October 1st to 7.1 on November 1st and 7.6 on December 1st.

Uranus, which is 10 to 13 times farther away, moves much more slowly as it glows at magnitude 5.8 south of Aquarius’s elbow.

Stars in the chart are plotted to magnitude 8.0. Typical binoculars show a field of view a little wider than the 5° spacing of the tick marks along the sides.

Interestingly, both Vesta and Uranus could have joined the list of naked-eye planets in ancient times — had anyone mapped the sky carefully. Vesta reaches magnitude 5.4 at some oppositions, and Uranus is never fainter than 6.0.