Vesta Tours the Hyades

Path of Vesta in early 2002.
Click on the image for a large view of the chart.
Source: Minor Planet Center and Sky Atlas 2000.
Minor planet 4 Vesta is a fine target for binoculars and small telescopes until late March. Wending a wide loop around Aldebaran, this brightest of all asteroids is especially easy to track through the star-rich Hyades region of Taurus.

The asteroid brightened to magnitude 6.5 for a week or so around opposition late in November, then fades gradually to 8.3 by mid-March. Even then it is slightly brighter than the faintest stars on the chart at left, where the tracks of Vesta and Saturn end in a remarkably close conjunction on the evening of March 19, 2002.