The asteroid Vesta is well placed for viewing at the moment in the constellation Taurus. From Earth, it appears as a mere pinpoint of light; so here’s an image NASA made earlier with the Dawn spacecraft that’s been orbiting Vesta for much of 2011/12:
Just too dim for the naked eye, at Magnitude 6.34, Vesta is easily picked out with binoculars or a digital camera. I took these snaps on 15, 26, and 29 December in mixed conditions, including a nearly full moon and Christmas lights for the shot on 26th. So not the best quality you’ll ever see, but satisfying all the same – at least for me – to capture a 326 mile wide lump of rock hurtling against the starry background.
Vesta is presently about one and half times the distance of the Earth to the Sun away from us (1.65 Astronomical Units).
Vesta is easy enough to find with software like Starry Night. It also shows up on Sky Walk for the iPad, but not with sufficient accuracy to locate it with confidence. There again, if you simply point your camera at the bright red star Aldebaran in Taurus, and take a couple of one or two second exposures of the area with a few days between them, Vesta will give itself away as the only object moving over time.