The waxing gibbous moon, star Aldebaran and Pleiades star cluster are found high in the sky as night begins on January 10, 2014. Aldebaran shines as the brightest star near the moon. The moonlit glare might make it difficult to see the tiny, dipper-shaped Pleiades cluster tonight, but a glimpse of the Pleiades in moonlight is beautiful indeed. And, in spite of the moonlit glare, you can always use binoculars to gaze at the Pleiades – also called the Seven Sisters – near tonight’s moon. The Pleiades will be to the east of the moon (or left of the moon, as you stand facing south, for Northern Hemisphere viewers).
Just be sure to mark the spot in your mind and check back with the Pleiades during the last week of January 2014, when the moon will be gone from the evening sky.
Tonight, you’ll have an easier time spotting Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation Taurus the Bull. Aldebaran represents the Bull’s fiery red eye. It’ll be shining in the moon’s glare tonight.
As evening deepens into late night on January 10, the star Aldebaran and Pleiades cluster follows the moon westward across the sky. Then these stars and the moon set in tandem beneath the west-northwest horizon in the wee hours after midnight. The farther north you live, the later they set. The farther south you live, the earlier. At mid-northern latitudes in North America, the moon and Pleaides sink below the horizon tomorrow around 3 to 4 a.m. local time.
How can you find Aldebaran and the Pleiades when the moon has left the evening sky? Well, they’re very noticeable in and of themselves: a small compact dipper of stars. You can also use Orion’s Belt to point the way to this most famous of star clusters, as shown on the chart above.
The Pleiades star cluster is also called the Seven Sisters, even though most people can only see six Pleiades stars with the unaided eye.
Stories about the Lost Pleiad abound in sky lore.
Bottom line: The Pleiades star cluster – and bright star Aldebaran – are in the moon’s vicinity on the night of January 10, 2014. If you can’t see them, break out the binoculars!