On the night of 4-5 March 2017, UK observers with clear skies can see an occultation bonanza as the 6-day-old waxing crescent Moon passes in front of prominent members of the Hyades open cluster in Taurus. Some hours later, after the Moon has set in the British Isles, first-magnitude star Aldebaran is occulted across a large swathe of North America.
On the night of 12-13 December, the waxing gibbous Moon glides in front of the loose open star cluster known as the Hyades in the constellation of Taurus, culminating in the occultation of bright star Aldebaran around 5:24am GMT for observers in the British Isles. In North America, the event occurs at a more sociable hour late into the evening of 12 December.
As dusk fades to dark on the evening of Tuesday 15 November, observers in the British Isles and Western Europe can see the rising 16-day-old Moon less than 2 degrees away from Aldebaran in the constellation of Taurus. While an occultation of the star occurs around 17h UT for observers in Japan, central Asia and the Middle East, skywatchers in the UK will have to settle for a near miss.
Astronomers are exploring what might be described as the first astronomical observing tool, potentially used by prehistoric humans 6,000 years ago. They suggest that the long, narrow entrance passages to ancient stone tombs may have enhanced their view of the night sky, enabling them to detect the first appearance of seasonal stars during twilight.
Have you ever seen Mercury with the naked eye? If not, now is the time to check the elusive innermost planet off your list. Mercury reaches greatest easterly elongation from the Sun on Monday, 18 April, the highlight of a very favourable dusk apparition in the west-northwest for observers in Western Europe and the British Isles.
On the night of 19—20 January, the 10-day-old waxing gibbous Moon glides in front of the loose open star cluster known as the Hyades that represent the bull’s head in the constellation of Taurus, culminating in the occultation of bright star Aldebaran an hour or so before moonset for observers in the British Isles.
Early on the evening of Wednesday, 23 December, observers in the British Isles can see the 13-day-old waxing gibbous Moon pass in front of first-magnitude Aldebaran — the ‘Eye of the Bull’ in Taurus — the brightest star to be occulted for UK observers in 2015. Here’s our observing guide to this readily observable event in large binoculars and small telescopes.
University of Texas astronomer Natalie Gosnell has used the Hubble Space Telescope to better understand why some stars aren’t evolving as predicted. These so-called “blue stragglers” look hotter and bluer than they should for their advanced age. It’s almost as it they were somehow reinvigorated to look much younger than they really are.
On Thursday, 29 October, observers in the British Isles with clear skies and armed with binoculars or small telescopes can see the waning gibbous 17-day-old Moon occult first-magnitude star Aldebaran, the ‘Eye of the Bull’ in the constellation Taurus. The star slips behind the Moon soon after 9:45pm GMT and reappears at the darkened lunar hemisphere about an hour later.