The extremely rare Betelgeuse occultation by asteroid (319) Leona: online event – 12 Dec. 2023
Next 12 Dec., the sky will offer us a rare event: the occultation of the very bright star Betelgeuse by the asteroid (319) Leona. We will bring to you this event, live, online.
We have been waiting for years, now the time has come: on 12 Dec. 2023, asteroid (319) Leona will be between us and the star Betelgeuse, alpha Orionis, occulting it for a few seconds. Of course Betelgeuse is very far away, this alignment being only matter of perspective, but the result will be mind blowing.
During the occultation, Betelgeuse will disappear for a short time, how much depends on the angular size of this huge star vs the one of the asteroid (and these data are not well known). In addition, the position of the observer on the Earth matters, too, to the point that this event is only visible from a very narrow strip of our planet.
For a very short time, we will see the legendary Orion constellation without its famous, orange shoulder, as it will be in the distant future, once Betelgeuse will have exploded as a supernova and faded to black.
“This kind of occultations are very useful to constrain the shape of the asteroid involved. Here, we hope to even investigate the surface of the involved star, too: Betelgeuse. It is a large red supergiant and while Leona will move in front of it as seen from Earth, we will be hopefully able to learn more about its large convective cells, driving its variable brightness”, commented astrophysicist Gianluca Masi, Director of the Virtual Telescope Project, who will comment the event during the live feed.
“In 2019-2020 Betelgeuse dimmed significantly, later recovering its brightness; furthermore, it is one of the best candidates for a future supernova event, so the importance of the upcoming occultation is undoubtedly extremely high”, added Masi.
Luckily enough, Southern Italy is part of this, so we will go there with light equipment and will try to grab scientific data, as well as sharing the view live!
The live feed is scheduled for 12 Dec. 2023, starting at 01:00 UTC
Our effort to cover and share this unique event is supported by ArteskyClick Here if you do not want to wait.
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