Home > Amateur Astronomy, Asteroids, Astronomy, General Astronomy, Solar System, Stars, Transits > Asteroid To Black Out A Bright Star

Asteroid To Black Out A Bright Star


Credit: IOTA / Stellarium / Sky & Telescope

Credit: IOTA / Stellarium / Sky & Telescope

Millions of people around New York City and points north can plan to watch a faint asteroid dramatically black out a bright naked-eye star very late next Wednesday night (the night of March 19–20).

And if you’re anywhere from the Carolinas to Nova Scotia to Winnipeg, a citizen-science project is asking you to keep watch too!

Get ready for the best and brightest “asteroid occultation” ever predicted for North America. Late on the night of March 19–20, the faint asteroid Erigone (eh-RIG-uh-nee) will briefly eclipse the bright naked-eye star Regulus for more than 20 million people in the New York metropolitan area and parts of Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, upstate New York, and Ontario. The star will vanish from sight for up to 14 seconds around 2:06 a.m. EDT on the morning of the 20th for New Yorkers, and a minute or two later farther north.

If the sky is clear, Regulus will be a cinch for anyone to spot — no astronomy experience required! Around 2 a.m. or a bit before, go out and face the Moon. Extend your arms straight out to your sides. Regulus will be straight above your right hand, roughly as high as the Moon is. It’s the brightest star in that area.

“Regulus shines right through moonlight and light pollution that’s in the sky — even the light pollution over a city like New York,” says Alan MacRobert, a senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine. “Just be sure to shield your eyes against any glary lights, and Regulus should be easy to find.”

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