Neil deGrasse Tyson explains occultation of Regulus - FOX 35 News Orlando

Neil deGrasse Tyson explains occultation of Regulus

Posted: Updated:
MYFOXNY.COM -

Where a dead-end street meets the river in Sea Bright, New Jersey, amateur astronomer Ted Blank assembled a telescope, Wednesday, to watch an asteroid pass in front of a star.

"It's a way to make a contribution to science for the average citizen," Blank said.

But before we let Ted tell us why the greater scientific community would need him in the middle of the night, we thought we'd first check in with one of those professional scientists.

"An 'occulation' vs. an eclipse?" we asked Neil deGrasse Tyson, the renowned astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium, and host of Fox's new show "Cosmos."

"There's no such word as 'occulation,'" he said.

Not an ideal start to an interview. Then again, it's not every day you get owned by one of the preeminent astrophysicists in the world.

That blunder brought to you by the missing letter "T."

"Oh, occultation," deGrasse Tyson said. "So, an occultation happens when one object passes in front of another."

For example, when an asteroid passes between one's vantage point on planet earth and a far-away star.

"And that asteroid is large enough, deGrasse Tyson said, "that Regulus will drop out of sight for everyone in the five-borough area and a little bit of Nassau County as well."

Regulus -- located more than 77 light years from earth and one of the brightest stars in the sky -- should also disappear from Blank's view in New Jersey, allowing Blank and a smattering of other Occultation Timing Association volunteers scattered at different points throughout New York and New Jersey to record when they each see the star disappear then reappear. They'll then compare their measurements and hopefully be able to estimate the dimensions of that passing asteroid.

"Professional astronomers who are looking to study the asteroids and the origins of the solar system actually want to know the shapes and sizes of these asteroids," Blank said.

And for those of us who don't volunteer for the Occultation Timing Association, if the sky's clear, we can witness this event at around 2 a.m. Thursday without a telescope.

"So, just stand out and watch the thing disappear," deGrasse Tyson said, "count out the time, watch it come back and then go back to sleep."

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Suspect arrested in 1990s cold-case murders on Long Island

    Suspect arrested in 1990s cold-case murders on Long Island

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:00 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:00:17 GMT
    SCPD photoSCPD photo
    Authorities on Long Island have arrested a suspect in two cold case murders dating to the 1990s. John Bittrolff, a married father of two, is the lead suspect in the deaths of two prostitutes whose bodies were found within months of each other in late 1993 and early 1994, authorities said. Police arrested the 48-year-old, who was arraigned at the district court in Central Islip.
    Authorities on Long Island have arrested a suspect in two cold case murders dating to the 1990s. John Bittrolff, a married father of two, is the lead suspect in the deaths of two prostitutes whose bodies were found within months of each other in late 1993 and early 1994, authorities said. Police arrested the 48-year-old, who was arraigned at the district court in Central Islip.
  • Real estate heir charged for urinating on candy

    Real estate heir charged for urinating on candy

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 3:51 PM EDT2014-07-22 19:51:49 GMT
    A New York City real estate heir who admitted killing his neighbor a decade ago in Texas is facing a new charge in Houston that accuses him of urinating on candy at a drug store. Authorities say 71-year-old Robert Durst was arrested Sunday after arguing with store employees. They say he was charged with criminal mischief after urinating on at least $100 worth of candy.
    A New York City real estate heir who admitted killing his neighbor a decade ago in Texas is facing a new charge in Houston that accuses him of urinating on candy at a drug store. Authorities say 71-year-old Robert Durst was arrested Sunday after arguing with store employees. They say he was charged with criminal mischief after urinating on at least $100 worth of candy.
  • Search for masked robbers in Caesars heist

    Search for masked robbers in Caesars heist

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-07-22 19:28:51 GMT
    The hunt is on in southern New Jersey for two suspects who made off with more than $180K from Caesars Atlantic City casino. The brazen robbers reportedly stole the cash from two plastic boxes on the casino floor. The robbery occurred on Monday at about 6 a.m. The masked robbers took off in a vehicle. The State Police Casino Gaming Bureau is handling the investigation.
    The hunt is on in southern New Jersey for two suspects who made off with more than $180K from Caesars Atlantic City casino. The brazen robbers reportedly stole the cash from two plastic boxes on the casino floor. The robbery occurred on Monday at about 6 a.m. The masked robbers took off in a vehicle. The State Police Casino Gaming Bureau is handling the investigation.
Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices