Subsequent week, a uncommon celestial occasion will happen as an asteroid blocks the pink supergiant star Betelgeuse within the constellation Orion.
Betelgeuse, normally the Tenth-brightest star within the night time sky, will briefly blink off Monday, Dec. 11 because the asteroid 319 Leona seems to go in entrance of it from our standpoint on Earth. The occasion, which can final solely 12 seconds, might be a beneficial alternative for astronomers to create a map of the enormous star’s floor, which has been linked to its latest odd conduct.
It is extremely uncommon for one of many brightest stars within the night time sky to be blocked, or “occulted,” by an asteroid. Though the smaller asteroid might trigger a “ring of fireside” annular eclipse of Betelgeuse, a restricted variety of skywatchers might be in the suitable place to see it.
Associated: Huge planet found round tiny star may break our understanding of photo voltaic system formation
Along with being a brief occasion, the occultation might be seen solely from a slender path stretching from Asia to southern Europe, Florida and japanese Mexico. The Worldwide Occultation Timing Affiliation has a particular web page devoted to the occasion that features a downloadable Google Earth file exhibiting the entire path. Viewers inside the path will be capable to see the occultation with out binoculars or a telescope, although each will assist improve the view of the uncommon occasion.
Anybody not within the path can watch a livestream of the occasion being hosted by The Digital Telescope Challenge in Italy, which occurs to fall inside the path of the occultation. The livestream is ready to start at 8:00 p.m. EST on Dec. 11.
The occultation itself will happen round 8:17 p.m. EST, based on Sky & Telescope, although that point may shift by a couple of minutes because the orbit of 319 Leona is refined.
To seek out Betelegeuse from the Northern Hemisphere in December, look due east about two hours after sundown, and you will see the three stars of Orion’s Belt — Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka — rising into the sky. To their left, Betelgeuse might be stage with Mintaka.
“These type of occultations are very helpful to constrain the form of the asteroid concerned,” astrophysicist Gianluca Masi, director of The Digital Telescope Challenge, mentioned in a assertion. The occultation may additionally permit scientists to map the floor of Betelgeuse. “We might be hopefully in a position to be taught extra about its massive convective cells, which is driving its variable brightness,” Masi added.