On March 4th, the moon passed in front of Aldebaran star, the brightest star from the Taurus constellation which is known to represent the bull’s eye. This celestial event is known as a lunar occultation, appearing whenever the moon reaches the point in which it locates itself between Earth and a planet, star or another celestial object, blocking its view.
- The moon passed in front of Aldebaran star on March 4th.
- This type of celestial event is called occultation, when the moon blocks the view of a celestial object.
- Stargazers were able to witness this soon after 11 p.m.on Saturday.
Scientists argue that solar eclipses can also be considered occultation events in which the moon comes in front of the sun, blocking its view. In the past, researchers claim that occultations helped them for navigation but also for refining the orbit of the moon. They used these celestial events to measure coordinates of stars and to monitor the rotation of the Earth.
Nevertheless, nowadays their scientific importance is not as great as it was in the past. But amateur astronomers continue to analyze these occultations through groups like the International Occultation Timing Association. Occultations help scientists to observe the moon’s orbital motion easily. The speed of the moon around the Earth is about 2,290 miles per hour.
However, most people do not notice this movement because the rotation of the Earth triggers the moon to move fast from east to west in our sky. Nevertheless, an occultation like the one of Aldebaran star offers star gazers the chance to see the moon moving in its orbit. During this celestial event, the bright star from Taurus constellation blinked on Saturday night when the moon passed in front of it.
Stargazers were able to witness this cosmic event if they went outside after 11 p.m. and facing west. They only needed to find the moon in the sky, and then they would have spotted the star right above it. Specialists argue that at 11:10 p.m. the star was occulted by the moon, disappearing behind it. For approximately 20 minutes the star remained hidden behind our natural satellite.
Then, stargazers were able to spot the Aldebaran star emerge on the other side of our moon at 11:32 p.m. Experts claim that if there are stargazers or people passionate about stars who missed this event, they can witness another occultation event on March 10 when the moon will pass in front of Regulus star. However, this celestial event will be visible only for those in the southern part of the South Atlantic, South Africa, and South America.
Image courtesy of: public domain