What an exciting week in astronomy! Tomorrow has a huge lunar eclipse, and now NASA has captured images of Asteroid Vesta. The Dawn spacecraft has just gotten a full view of the large protoplanet.
In July, the Dawn spacecraft will begin orbiting the asteroid Vesta for 12 months. This is the second-largest object in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. After its year orbiting Vesta, the spacecraft will go to Ceres, which is the largest object in the belt.
Dr. Andreas Nathues from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research said, "This is really a new world which we've never seen before, so it should be very exciting. We will have five times Hubble resolution by the beginning of July." Those pictures will no doubt be incredible to look at.
Did you know that nearly one out of every 20 meteorites that hit Earth are most likely parts of Vesta? That is astonishing! What an exciting week. Tomorrow night's lunar eclipse will be the first of two for 2011. It will also be the longest in more than a decade. Unfortunately, it won't be visible from North America because of the timing. However, there are sure to be pictures of it available from elsewhere in the world. Be sure to check them out along with the new pictures of the asteroid Vesta.