Sunday, September 8, 2013

Spica Occultation

Spica is the brightest start in Virgo constellation. Its distance from Earth is about 236 light years and its magnitude is around +1. Spica is near the ecliptic and the moon occults Spica quite often. Today (8-Sep-2013) was such an occultation visible from Israel starting 15:11 (UTC). In Israel, the occultation started during the day, but that was no reason not to observe it since stars as bright as Spica are visible through a telescope! The disappearance of a star is something like that, first you see it and a second later it is gone! The reappearance was far better. The sun already set and the moon looked very well through the telescope with all its craters and mountains. Suddenly a white bright dot appeared and got further away from the moon in each second
Here is a short video of it. The video is photographed through a telescope but without tracking (It is hard to perform proper tracking without seeing the north star -Polaris). Also the air is very hot making lots of turbulence but lets just enjoy what we have

to make it even better Venus is nearby. There will be a Venus occultation this day as well visible from south America. In the USA there will be a very close conjunction between the moon and Venus.

Here is a photo of all three celestial bodies: Venus, the moon and Spica. 
Venus  (top) The moon and Spica
Venus  (top) The moon and Spica

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