Sunday, August 16, 2009

A very rare event: Jupiter occults a bright star (45 Cap)

Tonight there is a very rare astronomical event on the menu. Jupiter occults 45 Cap, a star of mag 6.0. 

The Electronic Bulletin van de BAA is giving the following info: 
Jupiter will occult the bright star 45 Cap (HIP 107302) on the night of 2009 August 03/04 (Mon/Tues). The star is visual magnitude 6.0 and, for European observers, will be the brightest star to be occulted by Jupiter for the next 100 years.

And yes, we are lucky, the sky is clear so no doubt we will see this event. Unfortunately the seeing is terrible, one of the worst I’ve ever seen, which has been reported too by other Belgian observers. The 4 main moons of Jupiter were all visible as well as 45 Cap, which is the closest to Jupiter. I started observing at 22Hr15UT which is around 40 minutes before the occultation. At around 22:50UT the tension is increasing, the star is getting real close to Jupiter. Then suddenly it’s gone and in the next 30 seconds I had the impression it pupped up a few times (difficult to say due to the seeing): a fist one (quite sure), a 2nd one (not sure) and a 3rd one (sure). 2 flashes have been reported by other observers too. The star reappeared 2 hours later but I have not observed this.

Rendez-vous is made again in 100 years!

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