Dec 8, 2023
2 mins read
2 mins read

Asteroid To Provide Brief Eclipse in Front of Betelgeuse Star

Asteroid To Provide Brief Eclipse in Front of Betelgeuse Star

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (NEWSnet/AP) — Betelgeuse, one of the brightest stars in the night sky, will momentarily dim to view from Earth during a unique eclipse when an asteroid passes in front of it.

The spectacle will last about 15 seconds late Monday into early Tuesday. Scientists aren’t yet sure if a “ring of fire” eclipse or total eclipse will result from the alignment.

Millions of people live along a path where it could be visible, stretching from central Asia’s Tajikistan and Armenia, across Turkey, Greece, Italy and Spain, to Miami and the Florida Keys, and also parts of Mexico.

Betelgeuse is a red supergiant in the constellation Orion, and is visible with the naked eye although binoculars and small telescopes can enhance the view. The asteroid passing in front of it is Leona, a slowly rotating, oblong space rock in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Astronomers hope to learn more about both Betelgeuse and Leona through the eclipse. By observing an eclipse of a much dimmer star by Leona in September, a Spanish-led team estimated the asteroid to be about 34 miles wide and 50 miles long.

“Which scenario we will see is uncertain, making the event even more intriguing,” said astronomer Gianluca Masa, founder of the Virtual Telescope Project, which will provide a live webcast from Italy.

Betelgeuse is thousands of times brighter than our sun and some 700 times bigger. At just 10 million years old, Betelgeuse is considerably younger than the 4.6 billion-year-old sun.

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