A rare celestial event is set to take place tonight, and the whole thing will be carried live on the Internet. Fox News reports that an asteroid the size of Rhode Island will temporarily blot out one of the brightest stars in the sky, and — weather permitting — the event will be available online for all to see.
"At around 2:05 a.m. EDT Thursday morning, a 45-mile-wide asteroid 163 Erigone will eclipse Regulus, as seen from a swath of North America, making the 22nd-brightest star in the sky disappear for a few seconds," the story reports. "This ‘occultation’ will be visible from the ground only to people in a narrow corridor in northeastern North America. However, the online Slooh Space Camera will offer live views of the eclipse during a show that begins at 1:45 a.m. EDT Thursday."
The program can be viewed at slooh.com, the report notes. A YouTube video, which can be seen below, is already ticking off the seconds until we achieve occultation.
Bob Berman, an astronomer with Slooh, let his excitement be known in a statement: "In my entire 40 years as a professional astronomer, I’ve never witnessed a star as bright as Regulus — Leo’s ‘alpha’ luminary — being blocked as seen along a populated Earthly path in an easily accessible region."
Berman added: "That’s what will happen early Thursday morning. It’s hard to describe the excitement of this event. Regulus will vanish, and the constellation Leo will temporarily look totally different for as much as 14 seconds, as seen from New York City and about a 100-mile wide path extending to that city’s north and west."
Here’s the countdown video: