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 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.
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.
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
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
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 has served as lead writer for EarthSky's popular Tonight pages since 2004. He's a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.