Weather permitting, millions of people in the northeastern USA could witness a rare and eerie sight next week: a space rock blotting out one of the brightest stars in the sky.
The Rhode Island-sized space rock will extinguish the light from the star Regulus just after 2 a.m. ET Thursday for as long as 14 seconds. This blockage-by-space rock will be the most visible such event in North America, an unprecedented marvel that those with no astronomical knowledge can observe.
What's more, anyone with even modest gear "can contribute real science," says Alan MacRobert, a senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine. "You can give one additional data point for determining the character of this asteroid that will be known for all time and history." An observer armed with a digital SLR camera can collect high-quality data, but even someone with just a stopwatch, video camera or no equipment at all can provide useful information.
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