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Moon hides bright star Aldebaran

Tonight – November 5, 2017 – the moon occults (covers over) Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation Taurus the Bull. On the sky chart above, we don’t show the moon for November 5, because if we did – on the rough scale of our sky charts – it’d hide the star Aldebaran from view. This occultation is visible from much of North America, Greenland, Iceland and northern Europe. Elsewhere around the world, tonight’s moon shines close to Aldebaran but won’t pass directly in front of Aldebaran.

Keep in mind, though, that the glare of the still-bright, almost-full waning gibbous moon might make it tough to see Aldebaran and the nearly Pleiades star cluster. You may glance up and notice Aldebaran and the Pleiades shining in the moon’s glare. Or, if you don’t, try placing a finger over the moon to get a better view of Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster better.

The Pleiades in the light of the full supermoon - November 14, 2016 - from Zefri Besar in Brunei Darussalam. As you can see, bright moonlight will make things harder!

The Pleiades in the light of the full supermoon – November 14, 2016 – from Zefri Besar in Brunei Darussalam. Bright moonlight makes the stars harder to see!

The sky chart at the top of the page is for mid-northern North American latitudes, on the evenings of November 4, 5 and 6. On these dates from the world’s Eastern Hemisphere – Europe, Africa and Asia – the moon is somewhat offset toward the previous date.

Look at the worldwide map below. All locations to the north (above) the solid white line are in a position to see the lunar occultation of Aldebaran, where the star first disappears behind the moon’s illuminated side and then reappears from behind the moon’s tiny sliver of darkness.

Worldwide map via IOTA. Everyplace to the north of the whie line can see the lunar occultation of Aldebaran in a nighttime sky. The area above the short blue line shows where the occultation occurs at dusk and the area above the dotted red line sees the occulation in a daytime sky. The turquoise loop in North America can’t see the beginning of the occultation but only the tail end. Click here for more information.

The occultation is visible from much of North America. However, the western part of North America to the west (left) of the turquoise loop is not in a position to watch this occultation. The section of North America within this turquoise loop can only see the tail end of the occultation, when Aldebaran reappears from behind the moon.

How do I translate UTC to my time?

For your convenience, we give the local times of the occultation for various U. S. localities:

New York City, New York (November 5)
Occultation begins (Aldebaran disappears): 20:01:28 (8:01:28 p.m.) local time
Occultation ends (Aldebaran reappears): 20:56:41 (8:56:41 p.m.) local time

Chicago, Illinois (November 5)
Occultation begins (Aldebaran disappears): 19:03:26 (7:03:26 p.m.) local time
Occultation ends (Aldebaran reappears); 19:55:53 (7:55:53 p.m.) local time

New Orleans, Louisiana (November 5)
Occultation begins (Aldebaran disappears): before moonrise
Moonrise: 18:51 p.m. (6:51 p.m.) local time
Occultation ends (Aldebaran reappears): 19:38:15 (7:38:15 p.m.) local time

Click here to find out the occultation times in your locality in Universal Time (UTC).

To convert Universal Time to local time in North America:

Atlantic Standard Time: UTC – 4 hours

Eastern Standard Time = UTC – 5 hours

Central Standard Time = UTC – 6 hours

Mountain Standard Time = UTC – 7 hours

Pacific Standard Time = UTC – 8 hours

We also give the local times of the occultation for two European localities:

Edinburgh, United Kingdom (November 6)
Occultation begins (Aldebaran disappears): 2:26:49 (2:26:49 a.m.) local time
Occultation ends (Aldebaran reappears); 3:25:37 (3:25:37 a.m.) local time

Oslow, Norway (November 6)
Occultation begins (Aldebaran disappears): 3:38:40 (3:38:40 a.m.) local time
Occultation ends (Aldebaran reappears): 4:39:34 (4:39:34 a.m.) local time

Fernando Roquel in Caguas Puerto caught Aldebaran after the occultation, when it re-emerged from behind the moon.

The star Aldebaran lies in the moon’s path, and the moon passes near it, or in front of it, frequently. This shot from Fernando Roquel in Caguas, Puerto Rico show Aldebaran after an April 10, 2016 occultation, captured just as the star re-emerged from behind the moon.

Bottom line: As seen from around the world, the moon and star Aldebaran cross the night sky from the evening of November 5 until dawn November 6. From some parts of the world, the moon will pass in front of Aldebaran.

Bruce McClure

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