Massive star called Betelgeuse will be briefly obscured by an asteroid Monday night

Massive star called Betelgeuse will be briefly obscured by an asteroid Monday night
# 11 December 2023 15:05 (UTC +04:00)

It may not be your typical eclipse, but a celestial event expected to occur for a fleeting few moments this week may still have you star-struck, APA reports citing North Country Public Radio.

An asteroid is slated to pass in front of the star Betelgeuse and obscure it Monday night in an event known to astronomers as an occultation.

Experts estimate the rare event will only occur for as many as 15 seconds, according to Space.com.

Betelgeuse is a red supergiant located roughly 700 light-years from Earth and forms part of the constellation Orion. At 10 million years old, Betelgeuse is significantly younger than our sun, but it's also about 700 times larger and 7,500 to 14,000 times brighter.

The asteroid 319 Leona is nearly 50 kilometers wide and orbits between Mars and Jupiter.

Astronomers say the occultation is more than a mere sight to behold and could actually provide some new insights into both Betelgeuse and Leona.

"This kind of occultations are very useful to constrain the shape of the asteroid involved," Gianluca Masi, director of the Italy-based Virtual Telescope Project, said in a statement. "Here, we hope to even investigate the surface of the involved star, too: Betelgeuse."

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THE OPERATION IS BEING PERFORMED