Occulation of Antares by First Quarter Moon

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Tonight, we will be witness to the occultation of the red supergiant star Antares by the First Quarter moon.

Wide field view to the south at astronomical twilight (8:15 PM, EDT), August 24, showing the first quarter moon immediately to the west of Antares, the red-supergiant heart of the scorpion.

 

“First contact” of the cccultation to occur at 8:38 PM, EDT.

A previous occultation of the red supergiant star by the full moon was observed by Dr. Jim Daly back on June 6, 2009.

Antares to the west (left) of the full Strawberry moon on June 6, 2009 just following its occultation. Image credit: James Daly, Ph.D, 15 cm, F/4.2 astrograph.

Why are occultations important?

The accurate timing of lunar occultations is performed regularly by astronomers, primarily amateur astronomers. These occultations, timed to an accuracy of a few tenths of a second, hold a particular scientific value, most notably in refining our knowledge of lunar topography. Additionally, accurate photoelectric analysis of lunar occultations have also discovered some stars to be very close visual or spectroscopic binaries. The angular diameters of stars have been measured by the timing of lunar occultations, useful in determining effective temperatures of those stars and thus their luminosities.



A quick, interactive web-based version of Stellarium is available here Tonight's Sky. When you launch the application, it defaults to north-facing and your location (on mobile and desktop).


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