The asteroid Jurgenstock will fly over the Earth on Tuesday, February 19, briefly erasing the brightest star of the sky. Seen from Earth, the asteroid will seem to sink directly in front of the binary star system of Sirius A. According to the International Association of Occultation (IOTA), the star will momentarily disappear from view. The time of the so-called occultation should be around 5:30 GMT (UTC) on Tuesday or 10:30 pm ND on Monday, February 18th.
Such occultations are usually the perfect opportunity for astronomers to gain insight into the shape and size of an asteroid.
Sirius A is the brightest star in the night sky and is almost twice as bright as the next brightest star, Canopus.
The star is accompanied by a faint white dwarf, nicknamed Sirius B, and is about twice the size of our Sun.
Astronomers believe that the star is slowly moving towards our system, which means that it will gradually increase in brightness.
Tomorrow, however, the star will appear to disappear as the asteroid Jurgenstock completes its turn around the Sun.
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David Dunham of IOTA, said in a statement, "If you are lucky to see the path go on your position, the star will disappear in a few tens of seconds, probably will not disappear completely, then its full brightness on several other tenths second.
"But it could be a slight drop in brightness lasting about half an hour or so. second, if you are at the edge of the road.
"The angular diameter of Sirius was measured at 0.0060", so theoretically, with the diameter of Jurgenstock just a little more – 0.007 "- at the current center of the shadow, the beginning of the transition to full brightness should take seconds, with the star completely blanked for 0.2 seconds.
"But the asteroid can be a little bigger or smaller than expected, and its shape will probably be irregular, so there is a good chance that even in the center, the star does not disappear completely."
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The IOTA blackout charts show that the brief moment of passage of the asteroid will be mostly visible over the open waters of the Pacific Ocean.
However, some lucky observers might be able to spot the incredible phenomenon in remote areas of Chile, Argentina and Panama.
IOTA said the updated trajectory calculations show that Sirius A could also darken parts of the Caribbean.
The Jurgenstock asteroid is a giant space rock whose diameter is estimated at 4.7 km.
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The asteroid was discovered in 1964 by astronomers from the University of Indiana, Indiana, USA.
Named after its founder, the German-Venezuelan astronomer Jürgen Stock, the asteroid would be supposed to orbit the Sun once every three years and every seven months.
According to data collected by the US NASA space agency, the asteroid will approach the dwarf planet Iris in early July 2041.
Fortunately, at no time will the space rock come closer to Earth.