2015 December 20
A well placed evening occultation
On December 23 we have another occultation involving the Moon and the leading star of Taurus, Aldebaran (magnitude +0.9). It takes place at a convenient time of around 18:00UT and weather permitting (surely it can’t remain cloudy for ever) will be an ideal event to be enjoyed by younger star gazers using nothing more sophisticated than a small pair of binoculars. And at an altitude of around 35 degrees from southern England, no major tree felling should be necessary to obtain a view.
The waxing gibbous Moon will be 2 days from full and Aldebaran will disappear at the dark limb (see chart below) at around 18:10 from southern Britain and a few minutes later from further north. Reappearance takes place around 19:12 from the south and 19:15 from the north (exact timings obviously depending upon the position of the observer).
These simple events are fun to watch, particularly seeing the star disappear at the dark limb, so let’s hope for a break in the clouds.
The chart below shows the Moon and Aldebaran at 17:30UT (from the astronomical hub of Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex).