Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rare Sight: Asteroid to Hide Easily Spotted Star Tuesday


The sightof a comparatively splendid star unexpected declining as a gloomy asteroid crosses infront of it, and afterwards usually as unexpected reappearing multiform seconds after is anexceedingly singular and extraordinary astronomical occurrence. But the function in thepredawn hours on Tuesday and propitious skywatchers opposite tools of Canada and thewestern United States competence have a possibility to see it.

Astronomersrefer to such an eventuality as an occultation a proxy stealing ofone astronomical intent by an one more such as a world relocating in front of a star asseen from Earth. In this sold case, however, the occulting physique will be aminor planet: a tinyasteroid well known as 824 Anastasia. �

Thestar in subject is Zeta Ophiuchi, the third brightest star in the constellation ofOphiuchus, the Serpent Holder. At bulk +2.6,its a star thats splendid sufficient to simply see with the exposed eye; you don"teven need binoculars, nonetheless they would give a softened view. �

Theprojected trail of this stellar obscure usually twenty-five miles far-reaching will run fromSouthern California (encompassing a piece of the Los Angeles metro area) thengoes northnortheast by executive Nevada, westcentral Idaho, northwestMontana and on up in to Alberta, Canada, flitting roughly without delay over thisprovinces dual largest cities, Calgary and Edmonton.

TheInternational Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) is enlivening as manypeople as probable to try to see and time the event.

Anyonewho can see and count, lives in or circuitously the obscure path, and is peaceful to getup in the core of the night and go outward for about ten minutes, can assistance usmeasure the area and figure of this asteroid, pronounced IOTA part of BradTimerson. We wish as most as probable to try to comply the obscure sincethe item of Anastasias figure that we can get is proportionate to thenumber of places from that the obscure is observed.

Whatmakes this eventuality so special is that this is the brightest asteroid occultation(eclipse) ever likely for North America involving an asteroid this large.

Duringa identical asteroidstar occultation eventuality that was perceivable from China in 1991,3,000 skywatchers attempted to see the eclipse. But usually 4 observersactually saw it, given the predictions per the obscure lane were somewhatuncertain.

Today,thanks essentially to the European Space Agencys startrackingspacecraft Hipparcos, predictions of such eventshave severely improved.

Howto fix up Zeta Ophiuchi

Ifyou are beginner to astronomy and think you"ll have difficulty in locating ZetaOphiuchi, here is a arguable approach of identifying it. You can try it during theearly dusk hours of Monday, Apr 5, that will be most hours prior to theoccultation. �

First,locate the informed 7 stars that have up the Big Dipper (around eleven o"clock,local time, the Dipper will be high in the northern sky, roughly directlyoverhead).

Thestars in the hoop of the Dipper have a bend that is simply translated in to asmooth arc. �

Continuethat hypothetical arc about the length of the Big Dipper and you will come to thebrilliant yelloworange star, Arcturus in the constellation Bootes. Then,follow that same arc past Arcturus for about the same distance, and you willcome to Spica, a splendid bluishwhite star in the constellation of Virgo.

Nowline Spica up with a circuitously landmark, such as a write stick or the tip of achimney. �Make note of the time and usually where you are standing. �

Nowwait about 3 hours and thirteen minutes, go behind outward and mount where you werewhen you were

lookingat Spica and see toward your landmark. Thanks to the revolution of the Earth,Spica will no longer be there, but an one more star, resplendent about onequarter asbright as Spica will be there instead.

That"syour aim star: Zeta Ophiuchi.

TheEclipse Track

Hereis a perspective of the shade lane of 824 Anastasia as it moves on asouthtonorth trail opposite horse opera North America. The plain together linesdefine the most appropriate guess of the path, estimated to be twenty-five mileswide. But there is still a little doubt that is because an one more set ofdotted lines are placed on presumably side of the path, suggesting that the starconceivably competence crop up to quickly blink out usually outward of the main eclipseviewing zone.

Between3:34 and 3:35 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, the 25milewide trail is approaching topass over Orange County and magnify north from there, over West Covina andOntario, Calif.

However,as already has been noted, the place of the trail is utterly uncertain. Here isa closeup of the lane as it passes over southern California. The lightgreen line is the likely executive line, the blue lines are the eastern andwestern edges of the likely path, the red and gray lines are the edges oftwo zones of uncertainty. �

As itstands, the trail could instead pass over downtown Los Angeles or the SanFernando Valley (with a small possibility that it could pass over even Ventura andBakersfield), or it could change east, presumably flitting over San Bernardino or,rather less likely, over San Diego and Palm Springs.

Evenan spectator on the likely executive line has usually a 26% possibility to have anoccultation, Timerson said.

Afterleaving the closeness of Los Angeles, the shade of the asteroid will take fiveminutes to competition by Nevada, Idaho and Montana, channel in to Alberta,Canada usually prior to 4:40 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time. Between 4:40 and 4:41a.m., the shade will brush over Calgary and Edmonton, but it competence pass eastor west of those cities.

Timingthis singular event

Oneof the most appropriate methods for timing this eventuality is to make make use of a fasten fasten deck inconjunction with a the time vigilance ticks from shortwave air wave hire WWV,which can be most appropriate listened at frequencies of 5.0 or 10.0 megahertz.

Here"swhat to do: With the fasten fasten deck invariably using and WWV on the air wave inthe background, call out D when the star disappears andR when it reappears (or, meditative it similar to a light, offand on). �

Reportingyour observation

Ifyou did watch at the right time, IOTA wants to know either or not you saw anoccultation.

Ifyou had no obscure of the star, usually let us know that actuality and send yourlocation in an email summary to, wrote IOTA President David Dunham. We preferthat you make make use of a GPS receiver or Google Earth, to establish your longitude,latitude, and betterment on top of sea level.

Anyonehaving difficulty can send the residence of their regard point, includingapproximate area from the core of the nearest road, and from the nearestcross street. The time an spectator starts and stops watching the star ZetaOphiuchi is additionally valuable, Dunham added.

Images: Spotting Spaceships From Earth Asteroids in Space Online Sky Maps and More

Joe Rao serves as aninstructor and guest techer at New Yorks Hayden Planetarium. He writes aboutastronomy for The New York Times and alternative publications, and he is additionally anoncamera meteorologist for News twelve Westchester, New York.


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