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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Earthsky Tonight – January 25, 2010: Moon close to Aldebaran, Pleiades

Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science

East evening sky, the moon, The Pleidades and Aldebaran
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We are displaying a larger swath of sky than we usually do on tonight’s chart. That’s because we’re showing you how to star-hop from the three stars of Orion’s Belt to the star Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster. Aldebaran and the Pleiades cluster reside within the constellation Taurus the Bull.

However, you won’t need Orion’s Belt to locate Taurus the Bull tonight, because the bright waxing gibbous moon sits right in front of the Bull. The Pleaides star cluster lies to the west of tonight’s moon, while Aldebaran, the constellation’s brightest star, lodges to the south. Despite the moonlit glare, you may be able to see Aldebaran, the Bull’s eye. You may even be able to spot the Pleiades cluster, which marks the location of the Bull’s shoulder.

Like any constellation, Taurus the Bull is much easier to make out on a dark, moonless night. Starting the first weekend of February, you’ll have a solid week of moon-free evenings for viewing the Bull.

This evening, the moon nearly pinpoints the sun’s position relative to the backdrop stars for late May. Every year, the sun in its annual journey in front of the constellations of the Zodiac passes through Taurus from about May 13 to June 21.

Written by Bruce McClure