A lunar occultation of Delta Scorpii, a bright, second magnitude star and one of the principal stars in Scorpio, the scorpion, occurs tonight, Sunday June 12th.
What is a Lunar Occultation?
A lunar occultation is exactly what it sounds like. The moon occults a star and astronomers often take advantage of these events to better calibrate orbital data, time-keeping methods or to take advantage of this natural eclipse of a star to observe subtle changes in the occulted star’s spectrum or to confirm or refine determinations of the star’s physical size. If we know the star’s luminosity (which we do in 99.9% of the cases), we can then refine or determine the distance to the star.
The occultation begins or ingress with Delta Scorpii slowly disappearing behind the moon at 10:20 PM, EDT east of the meridian. Egress or the end of occultation ends at 11: 10 PM, EDT with the moon, Antares and the rest of Scorpio still east of the meridian.
It can be observed with a pair of binoculars or with a telescope. For those who just want to enjoy the spectacle, use a pair of binoculars. For those who want to time ingress or egress, a telescope is better suited.
Don’t forget that the Full Moon or the Strawberry moon occurs on Tuesday, June 14 so this event tonight occurs with the moon 2 days before full. Also worthy of note is the summer solstice for this year, occurring on Tuesday, June 21st, one week after the Full Moon. Please see our article entitled “Summer Solstice, 2022” for all the details.
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