If you’ve heard that a giant asteroid is coming close to Earth, don’t panic. It has passed by our planet before. It’s called 4 Vesta, and in this period it should pass close to our planet. We can even catch sight of it on the night sky.
The asteroid can be seen next to Mars and Saturn in the night sky, northwest of the Sagittarius constellation for people that live in the northern hemisphere. The southern hemisphere can see it southwest of the Sagittarius constellation.
Compared to the Chicxulub asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, the asteroid 4 Vesta is 50 times larger than it, measuring over 326 miles. Fortunately, the track it follows will never cross to our planet’s path.
You can see the 4 Vesta every night until 16 July. At the moment, the huge asteroid is only 106 million miles away from our planet – quite a small distance.
The first time when this huge space rock was discovered was back in 1807. It was named after the goddess Vesta, who was Ceres’ sister – Ceres is the biggest asteroid in the Asteroid Belt and a dwarf planet.
Why Can We See the 4 Vesta Asteroid?
There is a reason why we can see the giant space rock. The asteroid reflects more light than the moon and, being so close to our planet, it’s visible to the naked eye as soon as night comes.
Astronomers found many craters on the 4 Vesta, probably because of impacts in its early days.
In 2011, it was visited by the Dawn space probe which found traces of basalt, meaning that the asteroid once had lava flowing on its surface. The southern pole of the asteroid has a huge crater, and there is also a huge “mountain” that has a height of 20 km, making it the second tallest mountain found in our Solar System.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere