A giant asteroid will pass in front of a star, blacking it out for a short period of time. Viewers in the northeastern United States will be able to watch it happen live, weather permitting.
Erigone, an asteroid the size of Rhode Island, will pass in front of Regulus on Thursday night, just after 2 a.m. EST. This occultation of the star by Erigone could last 14 seconds. The asteroid measures 45 miles from one side to another.
Occultations of stars by asteroids and other bodies are fairly common, but usually affect much dimmer stars. This is just the eighth time in the last 35 years such an event will be visible with the naked eye.
Anyone in the New England or New York will be able to see this astronomical occurrence without any special equipment. Simply go outside (remember to dress warm!) and look for Regulus. The star will be found high in the western sky. Look for the constellation, resembling a body and head, with its head angled down, to the right. Regulus will be the bright star at the bottom right of the lion’s body. The constellation resembles a question mark to many people. The occultation will take place at 2:06 a.m. For people in the northern reaches of the area where this can be seen, the occultation will happen a few minutes later than it will further south.
Erigone is extremely dark, nearly the color of asphalt. The asteroid was discovered in 26 April 1876, by the French astronomer Henri Joseph Perrotin. The astronomical body was named after one of the two Erigones in Greek mythology. The carbon-rich asteroid rotates once every 16 hours.
SOURCE: James Maynard