A rare eclipse, visible to millions, will occur as an asteroid passes in front of the bright star Betelgeuse.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — One of the biggest and brightest stars in the night sky will momentarily vanish as an asteroid passes in front of it to produce a one-of-a-kind eclipse.

On late Monday and early Tuesday, a rare and brief event will be visible to a large number of individuals in a specific path across several countries, including Tajikistan, Armenia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, Miami, Florida Keys, and parts of Mexico.

The celestial body is known as Betelgeuse, and it is a red supergiant located in the Orion constellation. The space object is named Leona, and it is an elongated asteroid with a slow rotation, situated in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

A team of astronomers is eagerly anticipating an upcoming eclipse as an opportunity to gather more information about the stars Betelgeuse and Leona. The eclipse is predicted to be brief, lasting only 15 seconds. In September, a group led by Spanish researchers determined the size of the asteroid Leona by observing its eclipse of a significantly fainter star. Their estimation placed the asteroid at approximately 34 miles wide and 50 miles long (55 kilometers wide and 80 kilometers long).

There are still uncertainties surrounding the predictions, as well as the size of the star and its vast atmosphere. It is not yet certain if the asteroid will completely block out the star, resulting in a total eclipse. Instead, there is a possibility of a “ring of fire” eclipse, with a small fiery border around the star. If it is a total eclipse, it is unclear how many seconds the star will be fully obscured, possibly up to 10 seconds.

Astronomer Gianluca Masa, founder of the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy, stated that the exact scenario to be observed is unknown, adding to the fascination of the event. The project will be hosting a live webcast.

Betelgeuse can be seen without any visual aids from a distance of approximately 700 light-years. The use of binoculars or small telescopes can improve the viewing experience. One light-year is equivalent to 5.8 trillion miles.

NASA reports that Betelgeuse is significantly brighter and larger than our sun, with a size approximately 700 times greater and a brightness thousands of times stronger. In fact, if it were to take the place of our sun, it would extend well beyond the orbit of Jupiter.

Betelgeuse, with an age of only 10 million years, is much younger than the sun, which is 4.6 billion years old. Based on its mass and rate of consumption, scientists predict that Betelgeuse will have a short lifespan.

According to NASA, Betelgeuse experienced a significant decrease in brightness in 2019 due to the ejection of a large amount of surface material. This resulted in a temporary blockage of starlight by a dust cloud. However, within six months, Betelgeuse returned to its original level of brightness after countless centuries of fluctuation.

Researchers anticipate that Betelgeuse will undergo a supernova event, resulting in a powerful explosion, sometime within the next 100,000 years.


The Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group provides support to the Associated Press Health and Science Department. The AP is fully responsible for all of the material.

Source: wral.com