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A 4.7 km Asteroid May Briefly Occult the Brightest Star in the Night Sky

Accepted submission by takyon at 2019-02-18 18:41:09

A 5km asteroid may briefly occult the brightest star in the night sky []

On Monday night, for a few areas of South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean, Sirius will probably briefly disappear. This will occur as a small asteroid passes in front of the star, occulting it for up to 1.6 seconds, according to [] the International Occultation Timing Association. (Yes, the acronym is IOTA).

In this case, the asteroid 4388 Jürgenstock will have an apparent diameter just an iota bigger than Sirius. The angular diameter of the asteroid is about 0.007 arcseconds (an arcsecond is 1/3,600th of a degree of the night sky), whereas the angular diameter of Sirius is 0.006 arcseconds. Thus, as the asteroid passes in front of Sirius, the star will briefly dim, perhaps completely, before quickly brightening again. Sirius may appear to blink once, slowly.

[...] With a diameter of 4.7km, this inner-asteroid belt object was discovered in 1964 by an astronomer named—you guessed it—Jürgen Stock. This occultation should allow astronomers a rare opportunity to better characterize the dimensions of the asteroid. It is likely to have an irregular shape—further contributing to the uncertainty about the extent to which it will block the light from Sirius.

4388 Jürgenstock [].

Related: Ring Confirmed Around Dwarf Planet Haumea []
One Last Stellar Occultation of 2014 MU69 to be Observed Before Jan. 1 New Horizons Flyby []
Distant Kuiper Belt Planetesimal Found Using Occultation []

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