Sky Spy: Moon anchors impressive grouping

2013-03-14T00:00:00Z 2014-07-01T16:50:30Z Sky Spy: Moon anchors impressive groupingTim Hunter Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Moon Watch

Tonight the moon is a waxing (growing larger) crescent setting at 9:37 pm. First quarter is next Tuesday, March 19.

For the next several days the growing crescent moon will be quite beautiful after sunset.

If you look at the western sky on Saturday at 8 p.m., the five-day-old moon will be 40 degrees above the horizon.

Slightly higher and to the right (north) of the moon will be the Pleiades the Seven Sisters. Higher and to the left (south) is a "V" of five brighter stars and many fainter stars. The point of the V is toward the horizon. This is Taurus the Bull, and its brightest star Aldebaran is the 14th brightest star in the sky. Aldebaran is prominent due to its brightness and its red/orange color.

Just to the right (north) of the V of Taurus is Jupiter, which is quite bright.

All of these objects - the moon, the Pleiades, Taurus with Aldebaran and Jupiter - are clustered within 10 to 15 degrees of each other.

This grouping of celestial objects gets even better on Sunday night. The moon moves farther east and increases the size of its crescent. It now sits in the top part of the V of Taurus between Jupiter to its right and Aldebaran to its left. The moon and Jupiter will only be 2 degrees apart. The moon's brightness will somewhat overwhelm Taurus. However, this grouping of Jupiter, the moon and Aldebaran will be an impressive sight in low-power binoculars.

Keep Taurus in mind for additional exploration with binoculars when the moon is not dimming it. Most of the stars in Taurus belong to the Hyades star cluster, which contains approximately 300 to 400 stars 150 light years away.

Aldebaran is not a member of the Hyades cluster, sitting in front of it "only" 60 light years away.

Contact Tim Hunter at skyspy@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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