Did you get to see the crescent Moon occult the Pleiades last Tuesday night? Conditions here in Boston were pretty iffy, but things worked out alright in the end.

Dennis DiCicco

Both the National Weather Service and the Clear Sky Chart had good forecasts, so I felt confident scheduling a little observing party in our local park with my family and a couple of friends. But thick clouds began to cover the sky at sunset, and prospects were looking grim. Fortunately, the clouds thinned out, leaving just a medium-heavy haze by the time the Moon neared the Pleiades.

Because of the haze, the cluster was completely invisible to the unaided eye, and I could see only the brightest stars through my 10×30 binoculars. But my 15×70 binoculars, 70-mm refractor, and 7-inch Dob all had enough power to show dozens of stars, so three people got to watch each occultation simultaneously. Every disappearance was greeted with little cries of delight. Overall, the 15×70 binoculars probably provided the most aesthetically satisfactory view.

Saturn and Mizar provided icing on the cake, particularly for one friend who had never seen Saturn before. Which all goes to show that even haze and heavy light pollution don't have to stop you from having a great observing experience.

If you have any stories of your own, please submit them as comments below.


Image of marc in cincinnati

marc in cincinnati

April 10, 2008 at 3:15 pm

The Dark Sky Chart forecast was dismal...clouds everywhere. But I stuck my 10 X 42 Canon is binocs in my mailbox (just in case), and when my wife and I took the dogs out for a walk around 9:50 pm, I grabbed them and searched the 3-6 hr. RA and sure enough I could see the occultation of Taygeta around 10:03 PM...and within 3 minutes all was gone: clouds prevailed. It pays to keep looking even despite the worst of forecasts! I like occultations: they make me sound smart when I tell people what I'm doing::))

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