Thebacha and Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Festival August 2017

Aldebaran Occulted!

The brightest star in Taurus winks out in daylight.

Aldebaran occultation from Toronto

In this illustration, the dark edge of the Moon is about to occult the star Aldebaran, as seen from Toronto, Ontario.

Although we had a cloudy start to occultation day (April 10) here in Victoria, British Columbia, the sky cleared in the early afternoon for the occultation of Aldebaran by the dark limb of the Moon.

I observed the stellar eclipse with a 66-millimetre apochromatic refractor working at 50× and riding on a GoTo tracking mount. Aldebaran was a lovely, orange glint contrasting nicely with the blue afternoon sky. Frankly, I was surprised by how well Aldebaran showed up — before this occasion, I’d never attempted to view a star in daylight with a scope this small. Whenever I looked away to check the time, it would take my eye a moment to lock in on Aldebaran again, though. But once I had it, the star was very easy to see.

The occultation went as they always do. Literally, one moment the star was there, the next it wasn’t. It’s the very definition of instantaneous. The biggest challenge was trying not to blink at the crucial instant.

Owen-Aldebaran occultation

Tom Owen recorded this view of Aldebaran’s reappearance from his home in Edmonton, Alberta. Atmospheric turbulence has distorted the star’s image.

I hope you had good weather wherever you were. Feel free to add your observations to the comment field below.

Categories: Observing Reports
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