The Moon Occults The Pleiades

The Moon orbits the Earth about once a month. As it does so, it sometimes passes directly in front of brighter stars and, more rarely, planets. The Moon approaches a star, getting ever closer, and then the star vanishes behind the Moon – blinking out at the lunar limb makes contact.

Sometimes, though, the Moon does itself one better and passes in front of the Pleiades (or The Seven Sisters): a cluster of hundreds of stars in the constellation of Taurus. The Pleiades are a very tight formation, and about six or seven of the brightest members can be seen to the naked eye – hence their name.

On Thursday 13th November this will happen again, starting at around 5pm, and fortunately it’s best visible in Europe!

When the Moon passes through the Pleiades, they should blink out one by one. The whole thing takes about a a couple of hours. So if the weather is clear and you can see the Moon, I suggest you take a look. Use binoculars so you can see the stars more easily. While it’s not as spectacular as an eclipse or meteor shower, it’s still an interesting event.


Posted on 12 November, 2008, in Astronomy News, Popular Science and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The Moon Occults The Pleiades.

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