The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.

Lunar occultation of Aldebaran

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Lunar Occultations feed

Objects: Aldebaran
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The Moon will pass in front of Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri), creating a lunar occultation visible from countries and territories including the Contiguous United States, Mexico, eastern Canada and Cuba amongst others. Although the occultation will only be visible across part of the world – because the Moon is so close to the Earth that its position in the sky varies by as much as two degrees across the world – a close conjunction between the pair will be more widely visible.

The occultation will be visible from Ashburn. It will begin with the disappearance of Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) behind the Moon at 01:37 EDT in the south-eastern sky at an altitude of 52.7 degrees. Its reappearance will be visible at 02:44 EDT at an altitude of 62.9 degrees.

The map below shows the visibility of the occultation across the world. Separate contours show where the disappearance of Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) is visible (shown in red), and where its reappearance is visible (shown in blue). Solid contours show where each event is likely to be visible through binoculars at a reasonable altitude in the sky. Dotted contours indicate where each event occurs above the horizon, but may not be visible due to the sky being too bright or the Moon being very close to the horizon.

Map showing where the occultation is visible

Outside the contours, the Moon will not pass in front of Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) at any time, or is below the horizon at the time of the occultation. However, a close conjunction between the pair will be visible across much of the world.

The map can be downloaded in PNG , PDF or SVG format. A KMZ file , is also available, which can be opened in Google Earth to provide a higher resolution map.

The animation below shows the path of the occultation across the Earth's globe. The red circle shows where the Moon appears in front of Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri).

You can download this video in MP4 or OGG format.

A complete list of the countries and territories where the occultation will be visible is as follows:

Country Time span
The Contiguous United States 14:03–04:56
Mexico 05:54–02:19
Canada 13:39–04:57
Cuba 09:21–00:41
Nicaragua 06:17–02:24
Honduras 06:20–02:17
Guatemala 06:22–02:21
Dominican Republic 02:36–23:49
Costa Rica 06:15–02:32
Haiti 02:42–23:35
Bahamas 02:46–00:47
Belize 05:59–08:04
El Salvador 06:20–02:20
Jamaica 09:21–08:15
Puerto Rico 02:36–00:01
The Portuguese Azores 02:16–05:05
Turks and Caicos Islands 02:38–00:45
British Virgin Islands 02:37–00:05
Cayman Islands 09:18–08:02
U.S. Virgin Islands 02:37–00:06
Anguilla 02:37–00:11
Saint Pierre and Miquelon 02:04–04:55
Bermuda 02:51–05:11
Sint Maarten 02:37–00:11
Saint Barthelemy 02:37–00:11
Saint Martin 02:37–00:10
Clipperton Island 08:55–02:24
Navassa Island 09:27–08:06
Colombia 06:16–02:47

Lunar occultations are only ever visible from a small fraction of the Earth's surface. Since the Moon is much closer to the Earth than other celestial objects, its exact position in the sky differs depending on your exact location on Earth due to its large parallax. The position of the Moon as seen from two points on opposite sides of the Earth varies by up to two degrees, or four times the diameter of the full moon.

This means that if the Moon is aligned to pass in front of a particular object for an observer on one side of the Earth, it will appear up to two degrees away from that object on the other side of the Earth.

At the time of the occultation, the Moon will be 6 days past new moon and will be 86% illuminated. Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) will disappear behind the illuminated side of the Moon and reappear from behind the unilluminated side of the Moon.

The position of Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) at the moment of the occultation will be as follows:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) 04h35m50s 16°30'N Taurus 1.0 0'00"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

Next/previous occultations

« Previous Next »
Visible from the Contiguous United States Worldwide Worldwide Visible from the Contiguous United States
29 Jul 2016 21 Sep 2016 Occultations of Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) 15 Nov 2016 13 Dec 2016
29 Jul 2016 13 Oct 2016 Occultations 09 Nov 2016 13 Dec 2016

The sky on 19 Oct 2016

The sky on 19 October 2016
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

18-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


18 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:54 12:35 18:15
Venus 10:22 15:11 19:59
Moon 20:43 03:55 11:12
Mars 13:44 18:20 22:56
Jupiter 05:52 11:48 17:43
Saturn 11:10 16:01 20:52
All times shown in EDT.


The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE430 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.

Image credit

The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.





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