Moon Occults β Scorpii | 21 Sep 2020

Beta Scorpii (β Scorpii, Beta Sco, β Sco) is in the southern zodiac constellation of Scorpius. It is also labeled as Graffias in this star chart. The Moon passed in front of the star and hid it from view for about an hour. During the hour before occultation, I photographed the Moon and Beta Scorpii at 10 minute intervals using the same zoom and exposure settings. Photoshop Elements was used to merge the series of images showing the progress of the Moon as it neared the star. Disappearance was at about 8:42 pm. Reappearance was 9:40.

Our skies in Iowa have been filtered with smoke and haze from fires in the western states. The Moon and Beta Scorpii were already low in the southwest during the hour before occultation. The Moon was tinted orange. I hoped to also photograph the emergence of Beta Scorpii on the right side of the Moon after occultation. But, the pair was only 5˚ above the horizon. They had disappeared in the hazy atmosphere. During several recent sunsets, the Sun has turned very red-orange and faded from sight before it actually reached the horizon.

10 thoughts on “Moon Occults β Scorpii | 21 Sep 2020

  1. Nice photographic record of the occultation. It illustrates the Moon’s motion of course, rather than the star.

    I am disturbed about all the wildfires you have going on in the West.

    The Moon and Sun get that characteristic orange or red hue, which I always find very daunting.

    It always seems to be California which is one of the worst states. Do you ever get these fires across central and Eastern US?

    • We never have fires on that scale in the central or eastern US. The eastern states have plenty of rainfall throughout the year. Here in the central states we get very dry in the autumn months. Grassy roadsides can become fuel for a tossed cigarette. Farmers will also burn off some of that dried grass if conditions are not windy. They are short lived. Before the days of intensive farming the tall grasses would sometimes get started burning from lightning. Those prairie fires could travel a long way and last days.

      • That’s encouraging to know. I hope the weather patterns remain kind to you.

        I read in the LA times that Mt Wilson Observatory was threatened by fire a couple of days ago but have not seen any further information about it because the LA Times wants me to subscribe…

        • The news today says the observatory is safe. It did have a close call.

          Weather here has been better. Still some haze, but not as bad. Nice temps. We will have a colder spell of weather next week thanks to the Canadians to our north. It should move a lot of humidity and haze out of our area. I can get some telescope time.

  2. Hi Jim, very fine shots. Your moon does have the look of being filtered through smoke. I hope your skies have cleared.

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