Asteroid hunters have a great opportunity to spot Vesta in the vicinity of one of the Milky Way’s brightest star-forming regions this week.The 7th-magnitude minor planet resides in western Sagittarius, a region currently hosting the major planet Saturn. Vesta lies a few degrees southwest of Saturn. But of even more interest, the asteroid lies less than 2° southwest on the Lagoon Nebula (M8) tonight. On Friday evening, Vesta will slide 1° due south of the Lagoon.
But Vesta is not the only sight to see. Although autumn arrives with the equinox this coming weekend, the Summer Triangle remains prominent in the evening sky.
Look high in the west after darkness falls and your eyes will fall on the brilliant star Vega in the constellation Lyra the Harp. At magnitude 0.0, Vega is the brightest member of the Triangle. The second-brightest star, magnitude 0.8 Altair in Aquila the Eagle, lies some 35° southeast of Vega.The asterism’s dimmest member, magnitude 1.3 Deneb in Cygnus the Swan, stands about 25° east-northeast of Vega. For observers at mid-northern latitudes, Deneb passes through the zenith around 10 p.m. local daylight time, nearly 90 minutes after the last vestiges of twilight have disappeared.