Occultation Pleiades 20-21 January 2024.

Story


Morning
sky on Sunday, January 21 as seen from Adelaide at 00:21 ACDST, (click
to embiggen). The moon is just about to cover the star Electra in the
Pleiades. The inset is the binocular view of the moon at this time (click to embiggen).
Morning
sky on Sunday, January 21 as seen from Melbourne at 00:55 AEDST, (click
to embiggen). The moon is just about to cover the star Electra in the
Pleiades. The inset is the binocular view of the moon at this time (click to embiggen).
Evening sky on Saturday, January 20 as seen from Perth at 21:13 AWST,
(click
to embiggen). The moon is just about to cover the star 17 tau
(Electra). The inset is the binocular view of the moon at this time.  (click to embiggen).
On the late evening 20th/early morning 21st the just past First Quarter Moon will pass over (occult) some bright stars in the iconic Pleiades cluster. From western Australia and central Australia the most stars will be covered. Eastern states see only one bright star covered. unlike last years occultation the dark limb of the Moon will cover the stars frist so you will see them “wink out”

While potentially visible to the unaided eye, this is best seen with binoculars or a telescope. The bright Moon will wash out all but the brightest members of the Pleiades. Fortunately, for most of Australia at least one of the bright stars in the cluster, Electa (Mag 3.7), Merope (Mag 4.2) or Alcyone (Mag 2.8) are covered. Most of the west coast and central states get all 3 covered, with Darwin and Alice Springs (and places between) having the best view while the Pleiades sets in Adelaide before the stars reappear from behind the Moon. 

Timings for the covering of Electra, Merope and Alcyone are give below for selected cities.  Similar views will be seen at nearby locations (e.g. Fremantle and Perth, Alice Springs and Darwin)

Electra DD Electra RB Merope DD Merope RB Alcyone DD Alcyone RB
Adelaide ACDST 00:21* 01:03* 1:39*
Brisbane AEST 00:37*
Canberra AEDST 01:06*
Darwin   ACST 00:18* 1:24* 1:15* 1:45*
Hobart   AEDST 00:48*
Melbourne AEDST 00:55*
Perth AWST 21:13 22:31 22:01 23:11 22:45 00:01*
Sydney  AEDST 01:12

DD – disappear dark limb, RD – reappear dark limb.

* morning of the 21st.

It’s best to set up around 30 minutes before the occultation so you can get oriented in the sky and don’t miss the beginning while fussing with equipment. 

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

Labels: binoculars, Moon, Occultation, Pleiades, telescope

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