Adrian Dening's Stars Over Somerset

    Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th November 2021

    Ceres is the largest object in the Asteroid Belt that orbits between Mars and Jupiter. It was the very first asteroid discovered there back in 1801. It has a diameter of almost 1000Km and as a result, it was originally classified as a planet. By the 1850s, lots more asteroids had been found so Ceres was re-classified as a "big asteroid"!

    Then in 2006 the International Astronomical Union had a big debate about the definition of a planet. Pluto was re-classified as a "dwarf planet" and at the same time, Ceres became one of those too!

    Ceres is usually very difficult to locate in the night sky and because of its size, never reflects enough light to be seen with the naked eye. Next week it happens to be at its brightest, around a magnitude of +7, so you should be able to see the dwarf planet with binoculars.

    To find Ceres, from about 8pm, look to the east and locate the constellation of Orion. Draw an imaginary line from Orion's Belt up towards the Pleiades cluster and half way along is the constellation of Taurus. As well as containing the bright star Aldebaran, the centre of Taurus contains the Hyades open cluster of stars and Ceres is currently located between two of those stars - Hyadum I and Hyadum II.

    The best evening to try is Saturday 27th when Ceres is at opposition or in other words, closest to the Earth and at its very brightest.

    Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium
    Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2021

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