Sunday, November 20, 2016

Occultation of Aldebaran, October 19, 2016

Finally during this series of 49 consecutive lunations where someplace on Earth will see our Moon occult Aldebaran, the weather cooperated when Aldebaran was occulted over my girlfriend's home in South Bend, Indiana early on October 19.

Illinois astronomer Curt Renz's predictions for Chicago.

Late that Tuesday night (October 18), as Aldebaran rose above my girlfriend's garage, I could see it naked eye, even though the Moon was closing in. Around midnight, however, the light from the nearby Moon was just too overwhelming to see Aldebaran naked eye, even by blocking out the moonlight.

Nearing 1:00 AM EDST, I went outside to the small enclosed yard between the house and garage and set up a borrowed 8" Dob that I used for the observation. Upon my first look through a 20mm eyepiece (60x) showed Aldebaran in view with Luna.

Not knowing an exact immersion time, I monitored the pair for the next half hour. As immersion was imminent, I let my girlfriend Dawn have a few looks. I wasn't going to attempt getting the exact time of immersion, but I did want to be watching as the star disappeared. After Dawn had one last look, I took one last image with my phone. As I tried to put away my phone, I fumbled with my phone, and missed the immersion.

I knew I had around forty minutes until emersion, so I warmed up with a cup of coffee, and for the first time that night, consulted Curt's predictions that I listed above. I also found his predictions for the 1 & 2 components of Theta Tauri, which had both been occulted earlier in the night. Even though I had missed those two occultations, I was able to track down the pair when I went back out to the telescope.

Waiting for emersion.

I no longer remember what time I observed Aldebaran emerging from behind Luna, but I had been watching intently where I expected it to return for several minutes. I was amazed as Aldebaran appeared and quickly brightened, happening in less than a tenth of a second, but very noticeable and striking. After Aldebaran emerged, I let Dawn see it again, before obtaining images.

Once emersion had been observed, there wasn't much reason to stay too long after. I finished up my imaging for the night, packed my equipment, and went inside. I apologize for the delay in posting this report, but it's been a hectic month, and really almost a year now of personal instability, for a variety of reasons. I was glad to escape for a couple of hours, and observe my first occultion of Aldebaran during this series.