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 Northern America, Europe, western Russia, Northern Africa and Svalbard. 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 San Diego. It will begin with the disappearance of Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) behind the Moon at 12:12 PST, though in daylight. Its reappearance will be visible at 13:08 PST, though in daylight.

Extreme caution is necessary when pointing binoculars or telescopes at the sky when the Sun is above the horizon, as even a momentary glance at the Sun through such an instrument can cause permanent blindness.

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
(UTC)
Greenland 21:39–22:57
Canada 21:07–22:45
Russia 22:26–23:31
Sweden 22:23–23:31
Norway 22:22–23:27
France 22:37–23:46
Finland 22:24–23:22
Spain 22:45–23:46
Algeria 23:05–23:48
Germany 22:34–23:42
Poland 22:37–23:39
Italy 22:46–23:49
Great Britain 22:22–23:37
Svalbard 22:15–22:50
Belarus 22:37–23:34
Ukraine 22:41–23:40
Iceland 22:03–23:10
Romania 22:46–23:44
Tunisia 23:04–23:49
Libya 23:13–23:48
Hungary 22:46–23:43
Serbia 22:48–23:46
Ireland 22:25–23:33
Latvia 22:35–23:28
Czechia 22:41–23:41
Portugal 22:49–23:41
Lithuania 22:36–23:31
Austria 22:44–23:43
Estonia 22:33–23:25
Morocco 23:11–23:40
Denmark 22:32–23:32
Croatia 22:48–23:46
Slovakia 22:44–23:41
Bosnia and Herzegovina 22:50–23:46
Netherlands 22:35–23:38
Switzerland 22:45–23:44
Greece 22:55–23:49
The Contiguous United States 21:08–22:20
Bulgaria 22:51–23:46
Belgium 22:37–23:39
Macedonia 22:54–23:47
Albania 22:54–23:48
Slovenia 22:47–23:44
Northern Ireland 22:26–23:31
Montenegro 22:52–23:47
Corsica 22:52–23:47
Moldova 22:45–23:39
Faroe Islands 22:18–23:18
Mallorca 22:58–23:46
Luxembourg 22:40–23:39
Shetland 22:23–23:22
Aland Islands 22:32–23:21
Orkney 22:24–23:24
Svalbard and Jan Mayen 22:11–22:58
Menorca 22:57–23:47
Isle of Man 22:29–23:31
Ibiza 23:00–23:46
Andorra 22:52–23:45
Malta 23:06–23:49
Saint Pierre and Miquelon 21:32–22:38
Jersey 22:38–23:38
Guernsey 22:37–23:38
Melilla 23:12–23:39
Gibraltar 23:09–23:38
Vatican 22:54–23:47
Liechtenstein 22:46–23:42
Monaco 22:51–23:45
San Marino 22:51–23:45
The Portuguese Azores 22:42–23:02
Isla de Alborán 23:09–23:40
Islas Chafarinas 23:12–23:40

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 53% illuminated. Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) will disappear behind the unilluminated side of the Moon and reappear from behind the illuminated 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
06 Dec 2033 29 Jan 2034 Occultations of Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) 25 Mar 2034 25 Mar 2034
25 Jan 2034 22 Feb 2034 Occultations 21 Mar 2034 25 Mar 2034

The sky on 25 Feb 2034

The sky on 25 February 2034
Sunrise
06:18
Sunset
17:41
Twilight ends
19:03
Twilight begins
04:56

7-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous

58%

7 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:04 10:27 15:50
Venus 07:00 12:48 18:37
Moon 11:08 18:09 01:13
Mars 08:44 15:19 21:53
Jupiter 06:51 12:37 18:24
Saturn 13:21 20:25 03:30
All times shown in PST.

Source

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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