The above image of asteroid 21 Lutetia was taken July 11, 2010 by the Rosetta spacecraft. Image Credit: ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
It seems our moon has a busy schedule this morning, July 15th. It has the brashness to achieve not one, but two occultations of note. And depending where you are, you might be able to catch one or both of them. Please read on.
On Saturday, July 15th, people in Europe and northern Asia have an opportunity to observe a lunar occultation of the planet Jupiter. The event is expected to begin about 00:54 UTC, reach mid-point at 03:07 UTC, and then conclude at 05:09 UTC. Jupiter is currently in the constellation Taurus, the Bull, not far from the red star Aldebaran, and shining at magnitude -2.1. The planet Venus is also nearby, adding to the spectacle. For more details on the lunar occultation of Jupiter, click here to visit the online information page provided by the U.S. Naval Observatory.
At roughly the same time, people in the Arctic Circle have the opportunity to observe a lunar occultation of asteroid 21 Lutetia. The event is expected to begin about 04:38 UTC, reach mid-point at 06:29 UTC, and then conclude at 08:05 UTC. 21 Lutetia is a large main-belt asteroid, measuring about 100 kilometers in diameter (120 km along its major axis). It was discovered in 1852 by German-French astronomer and painter Hermann Goldschmidt, and is named after Lutetia, the Latin name of the city that stood where Paris was later built.
Lutetia has an irregular shape and is heavily cratered, with the largest impact crater reaching 45 km in diameter. The surface is geologically heterogeneous and is intersected by a system of grooves and scarps, which are thought to be fractures. It has a high average density, meaning that it is made of metal-rich rock.
The ESA's Rosetta spacecraft passed within 3,162 km (1,965 mi) of Lutetia in July 2010. It was the largest asteroid visited by a spacecraft until the NASA's Dawn mission arrived at 4 Vesta in July 2011.
For more details on the lunar occultation of 21 Lutetia, click here to visit the online information page provided by the U.S. Naval Observatory.