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Astro Bob

See The Dwarf Planet Ceres In Binoculars

2 Jun 2019, 13:53 UTC
See The Dwarf Planet Ceres In Binoculars
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Asteroid 1 Ceres beckons binocular-toting skywatchers the entire month of June as it travels from Ophiuchus into Scorpius not far from Jupiter. Ceres is a dwarf planet and the only one that’s easy to see. It’s currently 163 million miles (263 million km) from Earth. NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
There are only five dwarf planets: Ceres, Pluto, Eris, Makemake and Haumea. Of these, only one is visible in anything other than a chunky telescope — Ceres. And you can see it this month in nothing more than a pair of binoculars. I stood in the driveway two nights under under a smoky sky and spotted it in my 8x40s near the head of the scorpion. You can, too.
Ceres was the first asteroid discovered, way back in 1801, and the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Astronomers reclassified it as a dwarf planet in 2006 along with Pluto and three other large but remote asteroids in the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune. Dwarf planets lie somewhere between asteroids and planets. They’re big enough for self-gravity to have compressed them into spheres, and they orbit the sun (and not other planets) but lack the gravitational might to clear their orbits ...

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