In Brief

Astronomers to Tout Rare Asteroid-Star Eclipse in NYC Bars Tonight

Asteroid 163 Erigone Near Regulus
The asteroid 163 Erigone is seen near the bright star Regulus on March 17, 2014, just days ahead of a rare March 20 occultation of the star by the asteroid. This image was taken by the Slooh Half-Meter Telescope, a remotely operated telescope used by the Slooh online skywatching website. (Image credit: Slooh)

NEW YORK -  Hey New Yorkers! If you're out at the bars late tonight, you might want to check out a very rare cosmic treat happening above the Big Apple. An asteroid the size of Rhode Island will pass in front of one of the brightest stars in the night sky during the wee hours of tomorrow morning (March 20), and some astronomers are taking to NYC's bars to spread the word.

The 45-mile-wide (72 kilometers) asteroid 163 Erigone will eclipse the star Regulus after midnight on Thursday. The giant space rock will briefly blot out the star for observers in part of North America for a few seconds starting at around 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT). Weather permitting, Regulus' wink will be visible for skywatchers in about a 100-mile wide path north and west of New York City, but anyone with an Internet connection should be able to watch the cosmic show as well. The online Slooh Space Camera will host a live Regulus eclipse webcast, and you can watch the broadcast on or directly through the Slooh website.

Interested night owls in New York will have the chance to check out the Regulus eclipse (technically called an "occultation") with a few different events hosted around the city. While the weather forecast looks somewhat terrible, a few events are still rain or shine. Astronomy On Tap — a group of professional astronomers who present about the cosmos at bars and other venues — will dispatch members to bars around New York City for the night. The astronomers will be on hand to take barflies outside once the eclipse begins and answer any burning cosmic questions people might have in a bar at 2 a.m. (Thanks to Gothamist for alerting us to this cool event.) [Rare Asteroid Eclipse of Star Regulus: A Photo Guide]

The bright star Regulus will vanish behind the asteroid 163 Erigone for several seconds on the morning of March 20, 2014, for well-placed skywatchers. The star is located in the "sickle" of the constellation Leo, the Lion. (Image credit: Akira Fujii / Sky & Telescope magazine)

The Astronomy on Tap bars of choice are:

  • Manhattan — Upper West Side: Ding Dong Lounge (Columbus Ave btwn 105 & 106)
  • Manhattan — West Village: Art Bar (8th Ave between Horatio & Jane)
  • Brooklyn — Park Slope: Pacific Standard (4th Ave between St. Marks and Bergen)
  • Brooklyn — Prospect Heights: Way Station (Washington Ave between Prospect and St. Marks)
  • Queens — TBD

COSMOS FirstScope Telescope, Celestron Newtonian reflector optical system features a spherical mirror with a generous 76 mm of aperture. Buy Here (Image credit: Store)

Space fans can also watch the rare occultation from the deck of the Intrepid aircraft carrier. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (which is also the home to NASA's space shuttle Enterprise) is hosting a viewing of the event with the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York from midnight until 2:30 a.m. EDT on Thursday.

While observers won't be able to see the asteroid itself, those looking skyward from the viewing area should be able to see Regulus wink for at least 14 seconds, so long as clouds or rain don't spoil the show.

Editor's note: If you snap a great photo of rare asteroid occultation of the star Regulus, or any other night sky view, and would like to share it with for a story or gallery please send comments and images to managing editor Tariq Malik at:

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Miriam Kramer
Staff Writer

Miriam Kramer joined as a Staff Writer in December 2012. Since then, she has floated in weightlessness on a zero-gravity flight, felt the pull of 4-Gs in a trainer aircraft and watched rockets soar into space from Florida and Virginia. She also served as's lead space entertainment reporter, and enjoys all aspects of space news, astronomy and commercial spaceflight.  Miriam has also presented space stories during live interviews with Fox News and other TV and radio outlets. She originally hails from Knoxville, Tennessee where she and her family would take trips to dark spots on the outskirts of town to watch meteor showers every year. She loves to travel and one day hopes to see the northern lights in person. Miriam is currently a space reporter with Axios, writing the Axios Space newsletter. You can follow Miriam on Twitter.