How big Vesta is compared to your country

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The probe Dawn will be arriving at the protoplanet Vesta soon. The actual arrival is in July but the approach phase starts next month, and that's most likely when we will start to see photographs taken by Vesta, albeit still fairly far away. It is now just 2.1 million km away, which apparently makes Vesta now the brightest object in the sky from its point of view, though images from the Hubble Space Telescope (like the one you see on the right) are still more detailed than anything Dawn can produce.

In anticipation of the arrival, let's keep in mind just how large Vesta is compared to some places where you likely live. Vesta has a diameter of about 550 km, and making a rough calculation by assuming it's a sphere (even though it's not), that gives us an area of 950,000 km2.

Since that number will be meaningless to most, let's compare it to parts of the countries where the most frequent visitors to Page F30 come from. Here it is compared to the top 25 visitors.

#1 is unsurprisingly the United States. If you're from there, Vesta has about the same surface area as Texas plus Oregon.

#2 is Canada: if you're Canadian, think of Vesta as somewhere around the same size as Ontario or British Columbia.

#3 is the UK. Vesta is 3.5 times the size of the entire UK.

#4: Spain. Vesta is almost twice as large. Or think Spain plus Sweden.

#5: Australia. New South Wales, plus half of Victoria.

#6: Poland. Vesta = Poland, plus Poland, plus one more Poland. That's three Polands.

#7: South Korea. Vesta = South Korea plus eight more South Koreas. Plus a bit more.

#8: Germany. Germany, plus Germany, plus the UK.

#9: Norway. You need three Norways to equal Vesta's surface area.

#10: France. One France, plus one Italy.

#11: Russia. Okay, Vesta is nothing compared to Russia. Vesta = almost as big as Volga Federal District (Приво́лжский федера́льный о́круг).

#12: Netherlands. Vesta is 25 times larger.

#13: Sweden. Sweden plus Sweden plus Slovakia.

#14: Turkey. Vesta = Turkey plus Tunisia.

#15: Brazil. Mato Grosso plus Rio Grande do Norte.

#16: Japan. Japan plus Japan plus both Koreas.

#17: Ireland. Ireland plus twelve more Irelands, then Belgium.

#18: India. This one's easy, just take the three largest states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra, and that's the surface area of Vesta.

#19: New Zealand. Three New Zealands, plus Greece.

#20: Finland. Almost three Finlands to make one Vesta.

#21: Italy. Three Italys, plus Croatia.

#22: Denmark. 22 Denmarks, so a tad fewer than the Netherlands.

#23: Belgium. 32 Belgiums. By the way, Vesta is also about 13 times the size of Benelux.

Behold the mesmerizing view of 32 Belgiums:

#24: Mexico. Vesta is almost exactly half the size of Mexico. Or imagine Chihuahua plus Sonora plus Coahuila plus Durango plus Oaxaca plus Tamaulipas plus Jalisco.

and finally, #25: Malaysia. Vesta is almost three times the size of Malaysia.


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