Asteroid Ceres visible through binoculars

Discovered on January 1, 1801 by Guiseppe Piazzi (1746-1826), at the Palermo observatory of which he was the founder, Ceres is the first asteroid discovered.

Ceres is the smallest known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the only one located in the asteroid belt. With a diameter of about 950 km, it is the largest and most massive object in the belt located between the planets Mars and Jupiter.

Piazzi calls it Ceres Ferdinandea which means “in honor of the king”, which then quickly became Ceres.

A few months later Olbers discovered Pallas, an object of the same type, and on March 28, 1802, Herschel spoke, in a letter to Piazzi, of “a new species of celestial bodies”, which he had already mentioned to the Royal Society. . He proposes the name of asteroid.

Very easy to see with small binoculars, Ceres is currently at its best, but nothing visually differentiates it from the stars: it is therefore better to locate it with a detailed map of the sky or with the help of free software such as Stellarium. More interestingly, Ceres is currently crossing the cluster of galaxies in the constellation Leo. At its highest in the sky around 1 a.m., Ceres is already observable around 9 p.m. at a height of 30° above the southeast horizon.