Observing the Lunar Occultation of Regulus

I observed the lunar occultation of Regulus Sunday morning but it was a game of hide and seek as clouds rolled in here in southern Indiana.

As I began setup around 3:30 am skies were clear but I was concerned about the approaching weather.

My set up for this occultation was a new iOptron SkyTracker mount, a little Galileoscope refractor, an Orion Starblast reflector, a pair of binoculars and a camera.

I’d also planned on timing Regulus’ disappearance and reappearance and reporting results to IOTA. To that end I monitored the WWV time signals with a shortwave radio.

E HOR REGULUS DISAPPEAR 15 OCT 17

This was my first time using the SkyTracker and setup was straightforward and simple. I mounted the Galileoscope on the mount and it tracked perfectly. I had considered mounting the camera on the refractor but didn’t have a counterweight bar so I mounted the camera on the reflector and popped a 24mm eyepiece into the little scope.

Things were all set up and ready to go by 5am but the clouds were really building by that time, very frustrating as Orion was clearly visible overhead to the south but the Moon and star were mostly hidden in the cloud bank building above the eastern horizon.

As the predicted disappearance approached at 5:30 am local the clouds thickened. Regulus and Luna were peepin’ and hidin’. Through the “sucker holes” in the clouds the star was visible one moment, then more clouds another sucker hole the star was gone the next.

Same situation one hour and thirty seconds later at predicted reappearance but with a longer lasting sucker hole with a wisp of clouds, although distracted the star popped out about 4 seconds before predicted time for Louisville.

This occultation promised to be one of the most beautiful and useful since the Moon’s phase was a 19% waning crescent. Many obeservers were hoping to see Regulus’ binary companion on reappearance, myself included but the distraction of the clouds was too much.

The next stellar occultation by the Moon will be another in the Aldebaran series which will be prime time the evening of Sunday, 5 November for observers in North America.

Regulus and the Moon will repeat this performance on 11 November for Asia, central America, parts of Africa and observers in southwest North America where it will be a late morning event.

Lunar Occultation Regulus 15 oct 17 crop

I fooled around a bit with imaging through the reflector but with the wind and not being on a tracking mount details are rather soft.

This was my first time using iOptron SkyTracker and it worked marvelously.