Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Occultation of the Pleiades, Friday September 11 2009
In the early hours of the morning of September 11 (between just after midnight to just before 1 am, depending on where you live, see below) the Moon will pass through the Pleiades cluster, occulting several stars, some bright (ish), most very faint.
The best views will be in northern Australia (Darwin, Cairns, Cape York, some parts of northern WA such as Kurunurra) where Maia, Tayageta and Sterope are occulted), with Alice Springs, Weipa Mt Isa, Rockhampton etc. having good views (Tayageta, Sterope and 18 Tauri occulted). The rest of Australia except most of WA and Tasmania, which miss out, just gets to see 18 Tauri occulted (as a brightish star, there's also a host of dim ones)
Occultation path of Tayageta. Image credit IOTA.
The occultations start really close to the horizon, so you will need a clear level north eastern horizon to see this best. Even though nominally visible to the unaided eye, you will really need binoculars or a small telescope to get the most from this occultation.
For example, in Alice Springs Tayageta is revealed at 23:57 on the 10th, when the Moon is just two finger widths above the horizon. 18 Tauri is revealed at 00:01 on the 11th, when the Moon is just 3 finger widths above the horizon and Sterope is revealed at 00:18 when the Moon is a hand span from the horizon. For Carins, Rockhampton and Townsville Tayageta is revealed when the Moon is about two hand spans above the horizon (at 00:31, 00:11 and 00:28 am respectively).
For more information and times for your local areas see the Southern Skywatch occultation table. Alternatively, for northern Australia see the IOTA pages for Maia and Tayageta for occultation times in Universal Time.