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Everybody is familiar with a solar eclipse, when our Moon passes in front of the Sun and blocks its light for several minutes. A similar situation can happen with asteroids, the Sun-orbiting, rocky or metallic objects that are left over from the formation of the Solar System or were formed by collisions between other asteroids. In total, we know of about 400,000 of these dark bodies, which range in size from a few hundred kilometres to just a few metres.
The smaller ones are hard to detect. While an asteroid is far too small to cover the Sun, one will occasionally move directly in front of one of the many stars in the night sky and block its light from our view, causing a stellar eclipse or occultation. Since asteroids move relatively fast, these events typically last just a few seconds. Normally the occulted star is so faint the event can only be seen via telescope.