January 25, 2020

20.03.11: An Occultation Update.

This Super-moon Sunday, we’d just like to give a brief self promotional shout-out to an astronomical success we had last weekend. Last Sunday we managed to catch the occultation of the 4th magnitude star Mu Geminorum by the waxing gibbous moon from Astroguyz HQ here in Hudson, Florida;

Ingress was surprisingly easy; I was actually able to acquire Mu Gem before local sunset, something I wasn’t sure was possible. The star winked out right on time, and no secondary flashes indicative of a close binary companion or passage behind a lunar peak were seen. Egress was actually tougher, as I had the bright limb of the Moon to contend with. The rig wasn’t at all that complex; I simply used a JVC digital video camera afocally mounted looking through an 8” Celestron SCT equipped with a 42mm eyepiece, and ran the video at about 100 frames per second. The time signal you hear in the background was produced by a shortwave radio broadcasting WWV radio on AM shortwave 15000 KHz.

I love occultations; especially lunar ones as there are usually at least a couple bright ones a year to observe right from any given backyard. Plus, unlike some astronomical events that you may or may not live though, lunar occultations happen quick. Zip,  and the star just disappears like a magic act! You rarely get a sense of the moon’s real-time motion about the Earth at any other instant than an occultation… watch this space courtesy of the U.S. Naval Observatory for an occultation near you!

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