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Where and how will we see in Greece the eclipse of the giant star with the asteroid

One of the biggest and brightest stars in the night sky will disappear momentarily as an asteroid passes in front of it, creating a phenomenon that will be observed for the first time by scientists on Earth. The star is Betelgeuse, a red supergiant about 700 light-years from Earth in the constellation Orion. The asteroid is named Leona and is a slowly rotating elongated space rock in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

The rare but extremely short-lived spectacle will be visible according to astronomers' calculations in a narrow path that stretches from Tajikistan and Armenia, across Turkey, Greece, Italy and , up to Miami and the Florida Keys and finally to some areas of Mexico.

In Greece, it will be visible in areas of central and northern Greece around three in the morning today to Tuesday and you can see the points in detail here. Of course, the necessary equipment will be needed, but astronomers say that the phenomenon can probably be seen with a pair of binoculars if someone looks at the right spot in the sky and the weather conditions allow it, i.e. there are no clouds or bad weather. There will also be a live webcast here.

The path where the eclipse will be visible is marked on the globe map with Greece in it.

Astronomers hope to learn more about Betelgeuse and asteroid Leona through the eclipse, which is expected to last no more than 15 seconds. Recent observations of asteroid Leona have shown it to be 55 km wide and 80 km long. It is unclear whether the asteroid will obscure the entire star, causing a total eclipse. Instead, the result could be a “ring” eclipse s" with a tiny flaming border around the star. If it's a total eclipse, astronomers aren't sure how many seconds the star will be completely gone, perhaps as long as 10 seconds.

Betelgeuse is thousands of times brighter than the Sun and about 700 times larger. It is so huge that if it took the place of the Sun it would extend beyond Jupiter. At just 10 million years old, Betelgeuse is practically a baby compared to the 4,6 billion year old Sun. Scientists expect Betelgeuse's existence in the Universe to be short-lived given its mass and the rate at which it is estimated to burn through its fuel. Scientists expect Betelgeuse to be destroyed in a supernova explosion within 100.000 years.

The mystery

In late 2019, Betelgeuse's brightness suddenly decreased too much, and the star remained very dim for about two months, causing aism in the scientific community which is trying to find an answer to this phenomenon without, however, succeeding so far.

The observations and studies that followed the discovery of the phenomenon produced various ideas and theories with two of them dominating since then. One theory is that there is a large cold spot on the surface of the star, because this is what is found in red supergiants, and this cold spot causes it to dim periodically.

The second theory mentions the presence of a cloud of dust that suddenly formed in front of the star, as seen from Earth. A research team from KU Leuven University in Belgium argued that both theories are valid and their combination causes the phenomenon. According to this theory, a cold spot appeared on the star which, due to the local fall s led to condensation of the gas that was there, turning it into dust, blinding the star.


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