Juno is an asteroid that will be coming into view shortly. To find it, go out into the night in a relatively unpolluted sky and look near Uranus.

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You can often see Juno with a descent telescope, but if conditions are good, you should be able to see it with the naked eye.

Juno is the tenth largest known asteroid and is about the size of Maryland.

How to find it:

The asteroid, which orbits the sun on a track between Mars and Jupiter, will be at its brightest on Sept. 21, when it is zooming around the sun at about 22 kilometers per second (49,000 miles per hour). At that time, its apparent magnitude will be 7.6, which is about two-and- a-half times brighter than normal. The extra brightness will come from its position in a direct line with the sun and its proximity to Earth. (The asteroid will still be about 180 million kilometers [112 million miles] away, so there is no danger it will fall towards Earth.)

Skywatchers with telescopes can probably see Juno from now until the end of the year, but it is most visible to binoculars in late September. On or before Sept. 21, look for Juno near midnight a few degrees east of the brighter glow of Uranus and in the constellation Pisces. It will look like a gray dot in the sky, and each night at the end of September, it will appear slightly more southwest of its location the night before. By Sept. 25, it will be closer to the constellation Aquarius and best seen before midnight.

Comments

  1. #1 Dan J
    September 18, 2009

    To find it, go out into the night in a relatively unpolluted sky and look near Uranus.

    Must… not…

    There are always a few objects worth checking out, but it’s not always easy to know when or where to look. Heavens-Above has always been a good resource for me. You can get good information about viewing natural astronomical objects, as well as artificial satellites.

  2. #2 Tristram Brelstaff
    September 18, 2009

    You can often see Juno with a descent telescope, but if conditions are good, you should be able to see it with the naked eye.

    Juno’s a bit too faint to be seen with the naked eye (but should be fairly easy with binoculars if you know where to look). You were probably thinking of Vesta which sometimes becomes brighter than magnitude 6 (but not this year).

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    September 18, 2009

    Actually I was barely thinking at all, I’m just overstating when I say naked eye: I mean naked eye wearing binoculars…

    You can actually see down to magnitude 6, and this will be perhaps 7.6. (Note: In this case magnitude does not mean “times 10″ but rather “times two” and the bigger numbers = fainter. So the sun is negative 26 or 27)