Aldebaran occultation recap

I didn’t stay up to see the main event, but I caught the pre-show!

The occultation of the bright star Aldebaran in the head of Taurus the Bull was going to be too low in the sky at my house, so I went out earlier when I could set up my camera in front of our house, shielded from the 20 mph wind in the 17 degree temperatures.

Earlier that evening, other, fainter stars in the Hyades cluster were occulted by the moon.  Here’s two photos just before and just after star theta-1 disappeared behind the dark limb of the moon. (The one next to it is theta-2.) Depending on your browser, you may need to click on the photos to see the two stars near the lower left faintly lit part of the moon, then one star remains. The third photo is an expanded view of the same photo after the first star disappeared. Note the dim lighting on the eastern half of the moon, that’s light reflected from the earth – earthshine.

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Here’s a wider view of the scene, with the V-shaped Hyades cluster on the left with the over-exposed moon and the little-dipper-shaped Pleiades cluster on the right. The blue blob near the Pleiades is a reflection in the lens. The red star on the upper left of the V cluster is Aldebran, which was run over by the moon around 11:10 in Westchester County, NY.  I would have had to set up out in the wind and cold somewhere else to see that, so I caught the pre-show.

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