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An Asteroid Will Occult Betelgeuse on December twelfth

An Asteroid Will Occult Betelgeuse on December twelfth

2023-11-18 15:51:37

I can not for the lifetime of me keep in mind when it was or what it was however a good few years in the past I keep in mind positioning a telescope to look at an asteroid because it silently and maybe barely eerily drifted between us and the Moon. I say eerily as this asteroid had the power to trigger widespread injury had it hit however in fact we knew it posed no menace.  I keep in mind on the time pondering it was thoughts blowing that even at this time, we nonetheless use arithmetic with roots (pardon the pun) centuries previous to calculate the place of objects in our Photo voltaic System. We get to see proof of this once more on twelfth December when one thing uncommon occurs!

I’ve relatively hinted to what I’m referring, on twelfth December, asteroid 319 Leona will go immediately in entrance of Betelgeuse, the pink big within the constellation of Orion whose title amusingly interprets to armpit of the enormous – now there’s a truth to amuse and astound your pals. To have the ability to calculate {that a} rock roughly 60 km throughout goes to go immediately in entrance of a star that’s simply over 650 mild years away is actually fairly staggering.   

Maybe extra excitingly if you happen to reside alongside a hall from central Asia and southern Europe to Florida and Mexico then at round 01:17 UTC you may have an opportunity – clouds allowing – to see it for your self and also you don’t want any telescope or tools, simply your eyes.  

Betelgeuse is the second brightest star within the constellation Orion and is a well-known favorite with its piercing pink color. It hit the information again in 2020 when it unexpectedly dimmed within the sky because of the star itself ejecting a cloud of mud. Subsequent month it would fade for a number of seconds because of the passage of Leona proper in entrance of it. An occasion like that is fairly uncommon the place the sunshine from a brilliant star is blocked (or occulted) by an asteroid occurring each few many years at most.  Will probably be fascinating to observe however can be scientifically helpful giving us an opportunity to be taught extra about Betelgeuse and the way it’s giant convection cells behave, and to be taught extra in regards to the orbit and form of the asteroid too. 

Image of Orion showing Betelgeuse upper left.
The Constellation of Orion exhibiting Betelgeuse at higher left (Credit score : Until Credner)

Anybody on the market wishing to look at the occasion must be warned although, the predictions are simply that, there are a number of uncertainties. The scale and form of the asteroid itself continues to be topic to debate. Usually we are inclined to assume asteroids are spherical until we all know in any other case however a earlier occultation of Leona in September 2023 decided that it was extra of ellipsoidal in form measuring 80km by 55km. At its distance from Earth meaning it would cowl an space of sky 46 x 41 milliarcseconds which is a bit more than the approximate 40 milliarcseconds for Betelgeuse.  Taking this under consideration suggests Betelgeuse will probably be fully blocked from view and due to this fact blink out for a number of seconds. 

Betelgeuse’s considerably diffuse outer environment might imply its obvious dimension is extra like 50 milliarcseconds so it simply fades as a substitute.   Till the occasion occurs we won’t know precisely the way it will seem within the sky or precisely when.   It’s an incredible alternative to be taught extra about these two fascinating objets so head outdoors on twelfth December round 01:00 UTC, wait and watch and hopefully you may witness one in every of natures relatively extra uncommon occasions. 

See Also

Supply : OW Cloud Data

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