The NEAR-Shoemaker Project's Eros "Monthly" Star Chart

Last updated: 18 January 2001


News from January 2001

Eros is in the night sky so that you can see the constellation that it (and the NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft) are in. Meanwhile, the spacecraft, which has been orbiting around the asteroid since last February, is beginning the last phase of its mission -- mostly in a 35 km altitude orbit. Far better close-ups will be obtained in late January, during several Low Altitude Flyovers, and finally on February 12th, when the spacecraft is lowered toward the surface at the end of the mission.

Star Charts for Eros: Jan. 3, 2001 and Feb. 12, 2001 (End-of-Mission Descent Day)

This sky chart shows the position of Eros and the NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft during the beginning of January 2001. The constellations are shown for 8 pm local time as seen from a mid-northerly latitude. Eros is moving among constellations of the Zodiac -- moving from Aquarius into Pisces in February. Eros is very faint (14th magnitude), requiring an excellent backyard telescope for viewing. The chart also shows the locations of several other asteroids and planets near Eros, low in the southwestern sky during evening.

This star chart shows the position of Eros (and NEAR) on Feb. 12th, the day the spacecraft descends to the surface of Eros. Its position, in the constellation Pisces, can be viewed low in the southwestern sky after the end of twilight. The positions of Venus and the asteroids Vesta and Juno are also shown. Later in the month, Eros will be near the crescent Moon on Feb. 25th.

About These Star Charts

We intend to provide monthly star charts. Using charts like that above, you can become familiar with the constellations that Eros is passing through. For instance, you can look up toward Aquarius and say to yourself, "NEAR is in the direction of those stars!" To assist your appreciation of the constellations, there are many books available about the sky, as well as the monthly star charts published in Sky & Telescope magazine and Astronomy magazine. You'll be able to see Eros through a back-yard telescope during favorable months but you will never be able to see the small, Volkswagen-beetle-sized spacecraft through a telescope, however, because it will be too far away and too close to Eros to see separately.

Questions about these charts?

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