Summary of Lunar Occultations for 2004
More about occultations.
During 2004, potentially observable from East Anglia are approximately 600 lunar occultations, although many involve faint stars, and one grazing occultation. No planetary occultations are visible from the region during the year.
This article summarises the circumstances of the best occultations during the year. It provides details for the location of Orwell Park Observatory; differences will in general be negligible for locations throughout East Anglia.
Occultations of Bright Stars
Table 1 lists occultation events during the year, of stars down to magnitude 5.5, where the circumstances are favourable. These events should be readily visible in small telescopes or binoculars.
The first two columns of the table list the date and time (UT) of the occultation. Column three specifies the phenomenon: "D" denotes a disappearance and "R" a reappearance. The table lists circumstances of D and/or R as dictated by the visibility of each phenomenon (determined by altitude, lunar phase, etc). Column four details the lunar phase (positive waxing and negative waning). Columns five and six give the altitude of the Sun and the star, both in degrees. (A negative solar altitude means that the Sun is below the horizon.) Columns seven and eight provide the star's magnitude and catalogue number.
|05 Jan 2004||20:35:51||D||0.97+||-41||55||5.2||125 Tau|
|14 Jan 2004||02:18:59|
|2.7||γ Vir, Porrima|
|31 Jan 2004||18:48:05||D||0.73+||-20||59||5.5||72 Tau|
|24 Feb 2004||18:00:27|
|02 Mar 2004||19:32:56||D||0.82+||-19||59||5.3||76 Gem, c Gem|
|23 May 2004||21:13:02||R||0.18+||-9||23||5.3||76 Gem, c Gem|
|02 Jun 2004||22:31:55||D||1.00+||-14||11||4.8||22 Sco, i Sco|
|10 Jul 2004||02:47:34||D||0.42-||-7||28||4.3||ο Psc|
|13 Jul 2004||01:34:17|
|4.4||37 Tau, A1 Tau|
|05 Oct 2004||03:21:58|
|20 Oct 2004||19:06:19|
|4.5||59 Sgr, b Sgr|
|20 Nov 2004||16:43:57||R||0.66+||-7||20||5.0||95 Aqr, ψ3 Aqr|
|23 Nov 2004||02:42:04||D||0.86+||-43||6||5.5||80 Psc, e Psc|
|18 Dec 2004||19:29:57|
|18 Dec 2004||21:32:04||D||0.52+||-51||20||5.1||29 Psc|
Table 1. Occultations of stars of magnitude 5.5 or brighter.
In table 1, note in particular the occultation of Porrima on 14 January 2004: the star is a famous double with two identical yellowish components, both of magnitude 3.6, which a large telescope will show as separate prior to the occultation.
The Moon’s orbit is defined by a range of periodicities, both short and long term. The short term periodicities mean that the Moon’s path through the sky follows a pattern whereby it almost repeats itself every month. The longer term periodicities gradually shift the orbit so that no particular pattern of approximate repetition can last more than a few years. This results in so called "occultation seasons", lasting for months or years, during which particular stars are repeatedly occulted, or repeatedly not occulted. The effect is most pronounced for the four first magnitude stars that the Moon can occult, namely Aldebaran, Spica, Antares and Regulus. We are currently in an occultation season lasting until 2007 when none of these stars are occulted.
Nights With Many Occultation Events
During the year, the Moon traverses some rich star fields. When this happens, a large number of occultations can occur during a single evening. Table 2 lists all evenings throughout the year when the Moon occults 10 or more stars.
|Date, No occs
||Date, No occs
||Date, No occs
||Date, No occs
|26 Jan, 15
||24 Feb, 12
||25 Feb, 14
||24 Mar, 15
|25 Mar, 22
||27 Mar, 19
||28 Mar, 14
||24 Apr, 45
|25 Apr, 12
||26 Apr, 20
||22 May, 15
||23 May, 12
|24 May, 16
||18 Nov, 10
||15 Dec, 19
||16 Dec, 10
Table 2. Nights with 10 or more occultations.
The track of one grazing occultation crosses East Anglia during the year. Table 3 summarises the circumstances.
Columns one and two give the date and time of the graze and column three specifies the lunar limb involved. Column four indicates the distance between Orwell Park Observatory and point X on the track, on land, where the distance between the two is least; column five links to a plot of the lunar limb profile visible from X. Column six specifies a north or south displacement of the observer's position, relative to the track, based upon inspection of the limb profile, to maximise the chances of witnessing multiple disappearance and reappearance events. Column seven links to an on-line Google Earth plot of the track and column eight links to an off-line image of it. (The plot and image illustrate the nominal track, with no displacement applied.) Column nine details the lunar phase (positive for waxing, negative for waning) and column 10 the altitude of the Sun (a negative solar altitude means that the Sun is below the horizon). Columns 11 and 12 provide the horizontal co-ordinates of the star (azimuth in the order N→E→S→W). Columns 13 and 14 specify the star and its magnitude.
|25 Jan 2004
Table 3. Grazing lunar occultation.