Coming up April 1 2006: The Moon will pass in front of the Pleiades for North America

Moon occults Pleiades It’s fun to watch the Moon block out (or “occult”) a bright star, and see the star reappear about an hour later. Early Saturday evening, parts of North America will be able to watch the Moon occult up to six familiar stars almost all at once. Even more stars if you have binoculars or a telescope. And if you’re really up for it, SuitSat is making a nice, high flyover of the east coast at 4:41AM.

Here’s another article about the Moon/Pleiades occultation. The Moon will approach the Pleiades cluster with its dark limb, and the stars will wink out quickly as it passes in front of them. About an hour after each disappearance, the Moon will have travelled far enough for each star to reappear from behind the bright limb. Even though it’s still a relatively new Moon, the bright limb will likely wash out any dramatic star entrances.

For anyone interested in the SuitSat flyover, check out the Heavens-Above site. After you’ve entered your city or coordinates, click “Select a satellite from the database,” enter “suitsat” for the Satellite Name, and then click on the date of the pass that interests you. Here on the east coast of the United States, early in the morning April 1 SuitSat will fly high overhead, reaching an altitude of 56 degrees. I’m tempted to take my el cheapo video camera out and see if I can record one this time! I wish I could record through the binoculars, but both the camera and the binos are too cheap to have any fittings for a connection. Still, I spent some time just videotaping the Pleiades a little while ago, and I could even see some nebulosity in the playback. So, maybe the camera will be fine by itself on the tripod.

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