Planetary occultations 2009

posted: 2144 days ago, on Friday, 2008 Sep 12 at 09:35
tags: astronomy, occultation.

The occultation of a star by one of our solar system's planets happens only very infrequently. In 2008, eight such events occur: one involving Venus, four by Mars, and three by Jupiter. If you include dwarf planets, a Plutonian event can be added to the list (and one by Quaoar, for that matter). None of these events were/are visible in southern Africa.

Date: 2009 August 04
Time: 01:56.4 SAST
Star: 45 Cap (HR 8302, HD 206677, HIP 107302), V = +5.9
Jupiter: 48.7" diameter, V = 2.8

During 2009 there are only six events, one by Venus, two by Mars, and three by Jupiter. This time around, southern Africa is in luck, though.

On the morning of 2009 August 04 (a Tuesday) Jupiter will occult the 6th magnitude star 45 Capricorni. The little star will look very much like one of the Galilean moons, being of similar magnitude. In fact, both Io and Europa will be just off Jupiter's western edge.

Coincidentally, Europa and 45 Cap will vanish behind Jupiter's edge at almost the same instant. Of course, the two don't reappear at the same time Europa has a ways to go in it orbit around Jupiter before popping into view.

I expect the event will be well-observed, because it will also be visible in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. From southern Africa, Jupiter will be at greater than 70 altitude.

Links

  1. Predictions of occultations [FTP access]
  2. Occultations by Solar Systems Objects (Doug Mink)
  3. Asteroid Occultation predictions (Steve Preston)
  4. The Ultimate Almanac: Rare, unusual and/or spectacular sky events in the 21st century (Daniel Fischer)

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