According to experts in the scientific world, 2016 is going to be a great year for stargazing. Granted, for astronomers every year is a great year for stargazing, but this year will apparently be even better than others. And the events have already started, as Aldebaran got occulted by the moon yesterday night.
- Aldebaran is an orange giant star 65 light years from Earth, in the Taurus constellation
- It is also known for being the 14th brightest star in the night sky
- The star is also known as the “Eye of Taurus” because of its position in the Taurus constellation
- The “Eye of Taurus” is best visible in the winter and in the spring
- In ancient Persia, it was considered one of the 4 Royal Stars, along with Antares, Fomalhaut and Regulus
After last year ended with two rare astronomical events in a row, a big asteroid passing close to Earth and a full moon on Christmas for the first time since Star Wars: A New Hope came out, this year decided to begin similarly spectacular; if you live in certain areas and have good eyesight or a telescope/binoculars, that is.
Almost all of the states were be able to see the rare event last night, as Aldebaran, the 14th brightest star in the sky, disappeared behind the moon for slightly over an hour.
The bright waxing gibbous moon hid Aldebaran in its shadow, making it look like it instantly went out, only to have it reappear just as suddenly slightly over an hour later.
As the moon was orbiting the Earth, it slowly moved eastward at its diameter per hour, leading with its dark edge outwards against the starry night sky.
The moon, 82% illuminated due to its monthly state, slowly moved towards Aldebaran until it suddenly disappeared behind its shadowy part, making it look like it was just suddenly turned off.
This type of eclipse – because that’s what it was, an eclipse – is called occultation by experts in the field.
According to both expert and amateur stargazers, the event was observable with the naked eye, although binoculars, or even better, a telescope would make the whole process much more enjoyable.
The astronomical event was observable from most places in the United States and Canada, but if you happen to live in the immediate Gulf Coast, south Texas, Florida, or southern Georgia, Aldebaran didn’t disappear.
Did you manage to take a look – or even better, a picture – of the event? If so, please share below.
Image source: Wikimedia