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IIA Captures Moon Occulting the Star Antares



  May 02, 2024

IIA Captures Moon Occulting the Star Antares



The Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), based in Bengaluru, recently recorded a fascinating astronomical event where the Moon passed in front of Antares, the brightest star in the Scorpius constellation. Here’s a simple explanation of what happened and why it’s interesting:

1. What is an occultation?

An occultation occurs when one celestial body passes in front of another, temporarily hiding it from view. In this case, the Moon moved in front of the star Antares, obscuring it from sight.

2. Who recorded the event and how?

The event was captured by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics using a camera attached to an eight-inch telescope, right from their campus in Bengaluru.

3. When did this occur?

This occultation happened on April 27, and Antares was hidden by the Moon for about 40 minutes. Such events are not daily occurrences but can happen several times a year depending on the celestial alignments.

4. Why was it only visible from southern India?

Occultations are location-specific because they depend on the observer’s line of sight relative to the two celestial bodies. The alignment was such that only observers in southern India, including those at IIA in Bengaluru, could witness this particular event.

5. What was the sequence of the occultation?

As seen from Bengaluru, Antares was obscured by the bright, illuminated side of the gibbous moon at approximately 1:13 a.m. and re-emerged from the darker, shadowed side at around 1:53 a.m.

6. Why is this significant?

Observing occultations helps astronomers study the objects involved more closely. For stars like Antares, it can provide data on their atmosphere and brightness. For the Moon, it helps refine details about its orbit and position.

7. When is the next such event?

The next time Antares will be occulted by the Moon and visible from India will be in June 2027. Each occultation provides a unique viewing opportunity depending on where you are located on Earth.

This event captured by the IIA not only offers a glimpse into the dynamic interactions of celestial bodies but also enhances our understanding of the universe in observable, exciting ways.


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