While these rocky fragments pose a challenge to the amateur astronomer, they have much to tell us about the history of our Solar System.
Their very name means
"star-like," and it tells the telescope user not to expect details like those seen on the Moon or Jupiter. Asteroids always look just like points of light; only the Hubble Space Telescope or radar observations can image a few of their surfaces in any detail from Earth.
For all that, asteroids are fascinating objects, being remnants of a much larger population of small bodies that formed and evolved under the gravitational control of jupiter. Most known asteroids are still found within a main belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Collisions within this belt may hurl asteroid fragments into orbits that cross Earth's orbit, and these fragments are the main source of meteorites.