science

Starwatch: young moon moves between Aldebaran and Mars


The young moon slips between Aldebaran and Mars on the evening of 19 March this week, and the tableau is framed by two jewel-box-like star clusters.

The chart shows the view looking south-west at 2000 GMT from London. On this evening, the moon is a waxing crescent with about 33% of its face illuminated. Keep an eye out for the moon on the nights leading up to the 19th as well, as you will be able to see it gain altitude and illumination night after night until on Friday it sits between the red giant star Aldebaran and the red planet.

Not far away, relatively, is the red giant star of Betelgeuse in Orion, the hunter. The two star clusters visible to the naked eye are the Hyades and the Pleiades, both in the constellation of Taurus. The Hyades is the “V” of stars that Aldebaran appears to be associated with. In reality, however, the Hyades is 153 light years away, whereas Aldebaran is just 65 light years away. The other star cluster, the Pleiades, is also known as the seven sisters. This collection of stars is 444 light years away. From the southern hemisphere, look north-west just after sunset.



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