Pleiades Occultation

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Early this morning the last quarter moon slid in front of the Pleiades, rewarding any early risers with a beautiful sight. I will give a brief description of my experience here, but I hope to see other reports from around the club posted as well. It will be fun to read everyone’s different experiences.

I rose around 4 and popped outside for a quick binocular view (to check the sky condition and be sure that the celestial clockwork really had brought the moon and Pleaides together. Hey, it was 4am and I was a little sleepy!). I then set up my small but mighty Orion ED80 refractor, and was immediately rewarded with a wide field view showing a bright moon and many of the brighter Pleiades. A few experimental photos (very hard to get the bright moon and faint stars in the same picture. Ok, more than hard for someone like me – impossible! Maybe someone else has better results) and a few shots of the moon itself, which provided a wealth of detail. I could count 5 terraces on the inner wall of the crater Copernicus. I was slow getting my scope up due to a set-up error on my part (remember, sleepy) so I missed the disapperance of Electra at 4:30, but I watched as others disappered behind the bright limb of the moon. I also saw Celeano just as it reappeared from behind the dark limb (just lucky, as I didn’t know when it would reappear). Overall, a very worthwhile event.

I rounded out the morning, as the sky was now brightening, with some views of Venus and Mars. Although the disk of Venus looked large when compared to Mars, it was tiny Mars that showed detail on its surface. As daylight overtook the sky I returned to the moon for a last look at Copernicus. What a fun session. I look forward to hearing about your observations.

The moon is overexposed in this 10 second exposure, although the dark side shows well. The original shows more of the fainter stars.