Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

231,785 subscribers and counting ...

Moon sweeps through Taurus the Bull

Tomorrow morning – September 21, 2016 – you can use the waning gibbous moon to find Aldebaran, the constellation Taurus’ brightest star. You can see it tonight, too, if you’re willing to stay up very late. You can also spot the Pleiades star cluster, although you might need binoculars to see the dipper-shaped Pleiades so near the moon’s glare. The moon, Aldebaran and the Pleiades go upward and westward throughout the wee morning hours, to reach their high point in the sky just before the first stirrings of morning twilight.

To know precisely when Aldebaran and the moon rise into your sky, check out this U.S. Naval Observatory page.

From mid-northern latitudes, look for the moon, Aldebaran and the Pleiades high in the south in the dark hour before dawn.

Before dawn from the northern tropics, look high overhead for this threesome.

Before dawn from the Southern Hemisphere, look for the moon, Aldebaran and Pleiades in your northern sky.

The lit side of the waning moon always points in the direction that it travels in front the constellations of the zodiac. On the evening of September 20, the waning moon is moving toward the star Aldebaran. The moon will pass in front of Aldebaran, as seen from some parts of Earth, in what astronomers call an occultation. Afterwards, Aldebaran will appear on the other side of the moon …

Moon on the morning of July 28, 2016, the morning of its occultation of the star Aldebaran (shown at left). Photo by Lunar 101-MoonBook.

Moon on the morning of July 28, 2016, shortly before it occulted the star Aldebaran (shown at left). Photo by Lunar 101-MoonBook.

This month’s occultation of Aldebaran is part of a long series of monthly occultations of this star by the moon. September 2016’s event will be seen from eastern parts of Africa, the Middle East and southwestern portions of Asia (India). The occultation will occur during the the nighttime hours on September 21-22. Aldebaran will disappear behind the lit side of the waning gibbous moon and then reappear from behind the moon’s dark side.

Note the worldwide maps above. Everyplace inside the solid white lines is in a position to observe the lunar occultation of Aldebaran during the night of September 21-22. At the left side of this swath, the occultation happens at late evening, or around midnight. At or near the right side, the occultation occurs shortly before dawn. Click here to find out the occultation times for numerous localities in Universal Time.

How do I translate Universal Time to my time?

View larger. The moon actually occults - moves directly in front of -Aldebaran on the night of September 21-22. Click here for occultation times.

View larger. | The moon occults – moves directly in front of – Aldebaran on the night of September 21-22. Click here for occultation times.

For your convenience, we list a few occultation times in local time below:

Lunar occultation of Aldebaran on September 21-22, 2016.

Khartoum, Sudan (September 21-22)
Occultation starts: 11:39 p.m. local time on September 21
Occultation ends: 12:30 a.m. local time on September 22

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (September 21-22)
Occultation starts: 11:57 p.m. local time on September 21
Occultation ends: 12:46 a.m. local time on September 22

Jaipur, India (September 22)
Occultation starts: 2:54 a.m. local time on September 22
Occultation ends: 4:17 a.m. local time on September 5

Click here for more on the lunar occultation of Aldebaran on the night of September 21-22. At this link, the occultation times are given in Universal Time. You must convert to your local clock time to know when Aldebaran disappears behind the lit side of the moon and then reappears on the moon’s dark side.

Bottom line: If you’re a night owl or early bird, watch the moon pass in front of the constellation Taurus the Bull over the next several days.

EarthSky astronomy kits are perfect for beginners. Order today from the EarthSky store

Bruce McClure

MORE ARTICLES