The stellar occultation by (319) Leona on 13 September 2023 in preparation for the occultation of Betelgeuse

21 Sep 2023  ·  J. L. Ortiz, M. Kretlow, C. Schnabel, N. Morales, J. Flores-Martín, M. Sánchez González, F. Casarramona, A. Selva, C. Perelló, A. Román-Reche, S. Alonso, J. L. Rizos, R. Gonçalves, A. Castillo, J. M. Madiedo, P. Martínez Sánchez, J. M. Fernández andújar, J. L. Maestre, E. Smith, M. Gil, V. Pelenjow, S. Moral Soriano, J. Martí, P. L. Luque-Escamilla, R. Casas, J. Delgado Casal, J. Rovira, F. J. Aceituno, V. Dekert, V. de Ory Guimerá, J. Serrano Estepa, Y. Kilic, R. Leiva, P. Santos-Sanz, R. Duffard, E. Fernández-Valenzuela, M. Vara-Lubiano, A. Alvarez-Candal, F. L. Rommel ·

On 12 December 2023, the star $\alpha$ Orionis (Betelgeuse) will be occulted by the asteroid (319) Leona. This represents an extraordinary and unique opportunity to analyze the diameter and brightness distribution of Betelgeuse's photosphere with extreme angular resolution by studying the light curve as the asteroid occults the star from different points on Earth and at different wavelengths. Here we present observations of another occultation by Leona on 13 September 2023 to determine its projected shape and size in preparation for the December 12th event. The occultation observation campaign was highly successful. The effective diameter in projected area derived from the positive detections at 17 sites turned out to be 66 km $\pm$ 2 km using an elliptical fit to the instantaneous limb. The body is highly elongated, with dimensions of 79.6 $\pm$ 2.2 km x 54.8 $\pm$ 1.3 km in its long and short axis, respectively, at the occultation time. Also, an accurate position coming from the occultation, to improve the orbit determination of Leona for December 12 is provided.

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Earth and Planetary Astrophysics Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics Solar and Stellar Astrophysics