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Moon, Aldebaran, Pleiades on March 31

Tonight – March 31, 2017 – the waxing crescent moon shines in front of the constellation Taurus the Bull and near its two most prominent signposts: the bright star Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster.

Look for these celestial gems at nightfall, in the vicinity of the moon.

View larger. | Zefri Besar in Brunei Darussalam caught the moon, Aldebaran (brightest star at 1 tip of the V-shaped pattern) and the Pleiades cluster – aka the Seven Sisters (little dipper-shaped cluster) – on March 31, 2017 from just west of the International Dateline, in Brunei Darussalam.

As always, the moon travels eastward in front of the constellations of the zodiac at the rate of about 13o per day or ½ degree per hour. For reference, your fist at an arm length approximates 10o of sky, and the moon’s diameter spans about ½ degree. Relative to the backdrop stars, the moon travels its own diameter eastward per hour.

On the sky chart below, you can see the moon’s change of position relative to Aldebaran in just one day, from March 31 to April 1. The moon lies to the west of Aldebaran (in the direction of sunset) on March 31 yet to the east of Aldebaran on April 1.

Watch the waxing moon over the next few evenings as the moon moves past the star Aldebaran, the brightest in the constellation Taurus the Bull.

The charts on this post are especially designed for North America. Nonetheless, from most places worldwide, you’ll see the moon to the west of Aldebaran on March 31, and to the east of this star on April 1.

But as darkness falls in the world’s far-eastern Eastern Hemisphere – Australia, New Zealand and eastern Asia – on April 1, the moon and Aldebaran will couple up breathtakingly close together on the first day of April 2017.

Bottom line: Beginning March 31, 2017, watch the moon light up Taurus as it passes in front of the constellation of the Bull over the next several days.

Bruce McClure