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

Lunar occultation of Beta Tauri

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Lunar Occultations feed

Objects: Elnath

The Moon will pass in front of Beta Tauri (Elnath), creating a lunar occultation visible from South America and Central America. 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.

Unfortunately the occultation will not be visible from Ashburn.

The map below shows the visibility of the occultation across the world. Separate contours show where the disappearance of Beta Tauri (Elnath) 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 Beta Tauri (Elnath) 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.

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

Country Time span
Brazil 08:14–09:24
Peru 08:02–09:23
Bolivia 08:17–09:24
Colombia 08:10–09:19
Argentina 08:19–09:21
Chile 08:16–09:21
Ecuador 07:38–09:17
Panama 08:11–08:58
Paraguay 08:21–09:22
Nicaragua 08:11–08:45
Costa Rica 08:08–08:54
Mexico 07:50–08:26
Venezuela 08:39–09:06
Guatemala 08:03–08:31
French Polynesia 05:30–06:56
El Salvador 08:08–08:34
Honduras 08:17–08:32
Cook Islands 05:28–06:30
Pitcairn 06:15–06:47
Clipperton Island 06:56–08:15

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.

The position of Beta Tauri (Elnath) at the moment of the occultation will be as follows:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Beta Tauri (Elnath) 05h26m10s 28°36'N Taurus 1.7 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
21 Oct 2024 17 Nov 2024 Occultations of Beta Tauri (Elnath) 11 Jan 2025 07 Mar 2025
27 Nov 2024 09 Dec 2024 Occultations 18 Dec 2024 14 Jan 2025

The sky on 15 Dec 2024

The sky on 15 December 2024
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

14-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


14 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:49 10:49 15:49
Venus 10:25 15:19 20:13
Moon 16:49 00:51 08:56
Mars 19:45 03:06 10:26
Jupiter 16:03 23:23 06:42
Saturn 11:55 17:30 23:05
All times shown in EST.


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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