Nearly-full Moon hides Antares: watch a red-supergiant fire on the Moon vanish and reappear.
The Moon will be only about 16 hours from full when, on the evening of Saturday, June 6th in the Americas, it will occult the 1st-magnitude red supergiant star Antares. The occultation can be seen from much of the U.S. and Canada, all of Central America and the Caribbean, and northern South America. Surrounding areas get a still-spectacular near miss.
In a telescope, you'll see the shadow-marked rim of the round Moon creeping up to fire-colored Antares. The star will blink out behind the invisible dark limb just before it reaches the brightly sunlit lunar mountains and plains. Antares has such a large angular size for a star (40 milliarcseconds) that, seen from locations where it grazes the Moon's edge, it may appear to fade down for a second so rather than snapping out instantly.
Antares will reappear up to an hour or more later from behind the sharper bright limb, with the Moon now higher in the southeastern sky. Antares and Aldebaran are the only strongly reddish stars near enough to the ecliptic, and bright enough, ever to be seen well on the Moon's bright limb. To me they look like a fire on the Moon for these rare few seconds.
Antares's 5.5-magnitude companion star will reappear about 6 seconds before Antares itself. But it will be very difficult to see on the Moon's bright limb.
Use the maps at left to find when Antares will disappear and reappear at your location. Times on the maps are given in Universal Time June 7th; they're on the evening of June 6th in the American time zones.
Detailed predictions for hundreds of cities and towns can be found at www.lunar-occultations.com/iota/bstar/0607antares.htm.
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|Title Annotation:||Celestial Calendar|
|Publication:||Sky & Telescope|
|Article Type:||Brief article|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2009|
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