Saturday, December 06, 2014
Very pleased with the speed in which they released this picture.'
And the 9 pixels-long Ceres looks like...
And this is just the beginning. Dawn is now about 1 million km away from the tiny ice planet.
As for what Ceres looks like at that distance compared to the rest of the sky:
The nine-pixel-wide image of Ceres released today serves as a final calibration of the science camera that is necessary before Dawn gets to Ceres. The dwarf planet appears approximately as bright as Venus sometimes appears from Earth. Ceres has an average diameter of about 590 miles (950 kilometers).
So Ceres at 1.2 million km is marginally brighter than Venes at 50 million km or so. Venus is much larger, but Ceres also has a really, really low albedo (9%). Still higher than Comet 67p (5%), mind you. The moon is at 12% for comparison.
To illustrate this take a look at this picture that was passed around online quite a bit a few weeks back, to show the difference between a nearly 100% albedo (Enceladus) and 5% (Comet 67p). Venus is 90%, Earth is 30%. So Ceres is slightly closer to albedo of our moon.