Massive 4 Vesta Asteroid Is Zooming by Earth — Here's How You Can Spot It
The 4 Vesta asteroid is currently making a drive-by visit to Earth. The asteroid, which reportedly measures more than 300 miles in diameter, is now so close to Earth that at night, you can see it with your very own eyes — no telescope required.
The 4 Vesta is so large, it’s described by NASA as “the second most massive body in the main asteroid belt.” And because of its size and material composition, as it’s passing by Earth, it’s more easily visible to the average Earthling. In fact, Vesta accounts for nearly nine percent of the total mass of all asteroids, NASA reports.
So why isn’t anyone freaking out over this massive rock flying through space so close to Earth? Because even though it’s so close we can see it in the night sky, it’s not actually that close at all.
Newsweek reported Thursday that Vesta will be closer to Earth than it has been in 20 years. But “close” to Earth, in this case, means that it’s currently about 106 million miles from our planet. And there’s reportedly “no chance” it will come into contact with Earth.
Vesta can currently be seen next to Mars and Saturn in the night sky. For anyone looking for the asteroid in the northern hemisphere, it is northwest of the Sagittarius constellation.
Vesta was named for the goddess of the home and family in Roman mythology. The asteroid has a fairly reflective surface, so it appears brighter than any other asteroid. That’s partly why it’s so easy to see it at night right now without the aid of a telescope, though, using one isn’t a bad idea if you want a better view.