Rare Asteroid Occultation Happens Thursday Morning

Rare Asteroid Occultation Happened Thursday Morning

On Thursday morning at around 2:00 a.m. EDT, Asteroid 163 Erigone was scheduled to fly in front of the star Regulus in what was supposed to be a rare asteroid-star occultation. It can only be assumed it happened because no one on Earth was able to actually view it do to cloudy, terrible weather in the northeastern United States. That was the only region of the area on Earth that the occultation would have been visible. It was a great disappointment to astronomers both professional and amateur all over the world.

An occultation is basically another word for eclipse. The best known type of occultation is a total solar eclipse and that is when the moon passes in front of the sun. Another common occultation occurs when the moon moves in front of a planet.

The International Occultation Timing Association, (IOTA as it is better known), gave an outstanding presentation beforehand on the Slooh website as Internet viewers all around the world tuned in to watch in hopes of seeing the occultation live on the web but regrettably it just was not meant to be. However they did show numerous beautiful pictures of Saturn and also Venus and they answered many questions over astronomy. One of the co-hosts also explains about a free IOTA iPhone app that individuals can download if they are interested in astronomy on a deeper level. A link to that site is listed at the bottom of this article.

The IOTA hosts also spoke about a full lunar eclipse of the moon which is scheduled to happen on April 15 of this year. It is only one of two eclipses that is scheduled to happen this year. IOTA always covers all sorts of cosmic events from asteroids flying by stars to space rocks coming near the Earth. It is a very knowledgeable place for anyone who is interested in astronomy and who may not have any type of astrophysics or space science background studies. It is easy to understand.

Trained astronomers prefer to use the word occultation instead of eclipse for these kind of planetary events because it comes from the Latin term which means to “hide”. The viewing was so important to professional astronomers that they thought this may have been the only chance in their lifetimes they had to be able to see just this sort occultation, one that was of a top magnitude star.

So Thursday morning at around 2:00 a.m. EDT, the asteroid known as Erigone was scheduled to fly in front of the star Regulus in what was a supposed to be a rare asteroid-star occultation. It can only be assumed it happened because no one on Earth was able to actually view it do to cloudy, terrible weather in the northeastern United States. That was the only region of the area on Earth that the occultation would have been visible. It was a great disappointment to astronomers both professional and amateur all over the world

By Kimberly Ruble

Sources:

IOTA

Guardian Liberty Voice

Sky and Telescope Magazine News

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