2014 Celestial Events: Bright Star Regulus Occultation to Take Place on March 20
By Jenalyn Villamarin | March 12, 2014 12:07 PM EST
On March 20, Thursday, sky gazers can witness the occultation of Regulus, a bright star in Leo, for 14 seconds as the 45-mile-wide asteroid 163 Erigone passes by. Clear skies will allow the visibility on the occultation shortly after 2:05 am with the asteroid's shadow, approximately 67 miles wide, traveling at over 10,000mph in the southeast to northwest direction across the Earth's surface.
According to theday.com report, the asteroid shadow will first touch land in Bermuda at 3:02 am Atlantic Daylight Time before traveling in the northwest direction across the Atlantic Ocean. The shadow will be passing over Long Island four minutes later as well as in all boroughs of New York City and western Fairfield and Litchfield counties in the homeland.
The occultation of the bright star Regulus on March 20 will be visible as well to the sky gazers in the adjoining states in the US northeast before continuing northwest into Ontario, Canada. The Universe Today report claims viewers will not need any special equipment to have a look at the celestial event.
"Shining at magnitude +1.3, Regulus is an easy and familiar naked eye object and is the 22nd brightest star in the sky. Asteroid 163 Erigone shines at magnitude+12.4 during the event," the report reads.
The report further noted about the path's race across the surface of planet Earth with initial touchdown in the mid-Atlantic at 5:53 Universal Time (UT) before making its landfall over Long Island New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and northeastern Pennsylvania just after 6:06 UT/2:06 AM EDT. Then, the path will be heading towards the northwest direction, crosses Lake Ontario into Canada, passes between the cities of Ottawa and Toronto just before 6:08 UT and crosses Hudson Bay and Nunavut before leaving the Earth's surface at 6:22 UT.
To easily find Regulus at any time from 1:30 am on Thursday, sky gazers are suggested to face the Moon and stretch their arms out horizontally to each side. Then, the sky gazers must turn their heads to the right and sight along their right arm where the bright star Regulus will be visible directly above the right hand approximately the same distance over the horizon as the Moon.
The International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) will be making observations from this celestial event as well as hundreds of other events that occur each year in order to garner a precise measurement that can help pin down an asteroid's orbit as well as the precise timing of the occultation.
"Timing an occultation can be accomplished via audio or video recording, though accurate time is crucial for a meaningful scientific observation," Universe Today reported before adding that the IOTA has the complete explanation on the tried and true methods used in capturing and reporting the celestial event.
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