Starstruck: Catch the Astonishing Betelgeuse Occultation!
If you happen to live in the right region, you have an upcoming opportunity to contribute to a global effort investigating one of the most renowned stars in the sky. On December 12th, 01:17 UTC the asteroid 319 Leona will cast it’s shadow on nearly half the planet's circumference, passing in front of Betelgeuse and momentarily obstructing its light almost completely. This presents an intriguing spectacle accessible to the naked eye, offering potential scientific revelations in the process.
A Cosmic Alignment
Leona is expected to block the light of Betelgeuze for several seconds. During this rare event astronomers hope to capture valuable observations of the surface of Betelgeuze as it’s surface is known to concist of large convection cells that cannot be observed directly due to stars intense brightness and glare fuming from 650 light-years away that make it the 10th brightest star in our sky.
This Red Giant presents an unique chance to witness a supernova, although debates persist regarding whether this event is decades or thousands of years away but it is still our best bet. The uncertainty surrounding Betelgeuse's future adds value to any information we can gather about it. During this celestial event, observers across parts of Asia, Europe and North-America will witness approximately 94 percent of Betelgeuse's light being blocked. By analyzing Betelgeuse's dimming from various locations along its path during the occultation, we may enhance our understanding of the star itself and map the shape and charasteristics of 319 Leona too more accurately than before.
Once in a lifetime occultation
When an asteroid blocks the light of a star it is called an occultation. Such events do not happen often, at the most every 20 years. This time the naked eye visibility will make it much rarer than earlier events too, so it might just be once in a lifetime experience for all of us.
To observe this unique event one needs a telescope equipped with a high framerate camera, even a DSLR with a video mode can work. Make sure to timestamp your data accurately so it can be compared to other similar clips of the event. As your camera is rolling, take a good look at the Red Giant with your naked eyes – its about to go dark!