Few people have ever observed an asteroid with their naked eyes. However, one of the largest ones will be easy to spot till mid July: (4) Vesta, a 530 km-wide monster (the same distance from London to Edinburgh as the crow flies).
Conditions for observation will be exceptional this 2018, but a very dark sky or basic binoculars will still be needed. Locating Vesta this summer is simple: South to South-East, between Sagittarius (the “teapot”) and the claws of the Scorpion (and Antares, the red giant). If you use any astronomy app such as Google Sky Map, it will get even easier.
Vesta orbits in the distant Asteroid Belt, 322 million km away. However, it’s also close to opposition these days, that is, the nearest possible location as Vesta perfectly aligns with the Sun and the Earth. If you have an interest in asteroids and you are visiting us this summer, please don’t hesitate to request our astronomers to observe Vesta from our telescope dome.