If you live within a 100 mile-wide path across the US from San Francisco, CA to Tucson, AZ, you will have the opportunity to observe the short disappearance of a star and help make new discoveries about a main-belt asteroid! If you detect this asteroid, we may be able to accurately derive its orbit, size, shape, and possibly discover moons around it. Read on to find out more about this asteroid, our upcoming citizen astronomy event, and even if you can’t make it, how you can observe it from your backyard!
1263 Varsavia is located in the asteroid belt, roughly between Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids within the asteroid belt are referred to as main-belt asteroids. Hundreds of thousands of asteroids have already been discovered, though millions are estimated to exist.
Known as a C-type asteroid, the most common type of asteroid, Varsavia is most likely made of carbon as well as rocks and minerals. Like a number of asteroids in the main-belt, it is possible that Varsavia may have moons.
Based on different techniques, astronomers estimate that Varsavia has a diameter between 16-34 miles (25-55 kilometers). From this occultation event, we might be able to nail down the size of Varsavia to a few kilometers in accuracy.
This large, main-belt asteroid was discovered in 1933 by the Belgian astronomer Sylvain Arend. Varsavia was named by the Polish astronomer, mathematician, and geodesist, Tadeusz Banachiewicz, after the Latin name of Warsaw (capital of Poland).
Citizen Astronomy Event
On April 29 at 12:28 AM PDT, main-belt asteroid 1263 Varsavia will occult (pass in front of) a star from our view relative to us on Earth.
Even though this event will be visible across the US from Tucson, Arizona to San Francisco, California, Unistellar is organizing an in-person event for the Unistellar community in the San Francisco Bay Area. The event will follow local regulations for safe distancing and face coverings, but it will also be an opportunity to meet other citizen scientists and use your eVscopes together.
Ready to observe?
If you detect Varsavia, we may be able to accurately derive its orbit, estimate its size, measure its shape, and possibly even discover moons around it! This is also a good way to learn how to record occultations, so you can participate in the next big occultation event on May 9 involving Patroclus and its companion Menoetius, a binary Trojan asteroid and target of NASA’s Lucy mission.
Even if you can’t make it to our citizen astronomy event, you can observe from your backyard! Check out our asteroid occultation predictions page for more details on this occultation including location, timing, and more.
Update (April 27, 2021): Yesterday, the Unistellar team refined Varsavia’s occultation path. The path has slightly shifted northwards and now has a smaller uncertainty.
- Click on North America on the drop-down menu and scroll down the page until you find 1263 Varsavia. Then, click on it.
- A map of North America with the path of the occultation should appear below.
- Zoom into the map so you can see the exact location where you can observe this occultation.
- Check the information above the map to make sure you have the correct parameters and observe for the correct duration.