Moon occults Spica for North America on November 29

Nov 26

Written by:
11/26/2013 9:51 PM  RssIcon

Granted, this will happen during the day, and will surely be a challenge, but there is precedent for seeing 1st and even 2nd magnitude and fainter stars during the day. So can you see Spica? Well... that depends.

First, it obviously has to be a clear day. But the more transparent the sky, the better chance you'll have for success. The other aspects that will help is higher altitude of Spica in the sky from your location, both east/west as it transits, and how high it will be above the southern horizon as it is occulted by the Moon.

Moon occults Spica in daytime

If I get clear skies on Friday, I know I'm trying this for sure! Forget shopping; I'll be observing. NOTE: Spica may not look as bright as in the graphic above.

Usually the hardest part about observing stars (other than the Sun) during the day is FINDING the darn things. But in this case, we have the Moon to show us the way. For me, the Moon/Spica combination will only be about 25 degrees above the horizon at the time of occultation (around 11:28 am Chicago time). That's not very high, so I'm going to have to hope for REALLY transparent skies, and I'll also be using a 10" reflector telescope. 

But therein lines another point to consider: The SUN.

Our provider of warmth and light will be less than 45 degrees away from the Moon. If possible, block the Sun from your telescope using a building or other large object. If not, but SURE to keep it pointed in such a way that light cannot enter the tube, applying an extra shield using cardboard and tape if necessary.

Here are a few more times for other areas of the country, so you can estimate when this event may happen for you, generally in order from furthest east to furthest west:

  • Miami, FL: 1:05 pm
  • Columbia, SC: 12:48
  • New York, NY: 12:44 pm
  • Columbus, OH: 12:36 pm
  • Columbia, MO: 11:25 am
  • Dallas, TX: 11:27 am
  • Chicago, IL: 11:28 am
  • Denver, CO: 10:03 am
  • Phoenix, AZ: 10:00 am
  • Los Angeles, CA: 8:48 am (this may be too low in the sky to be able to see)

Give it a shot - you just might see the Moon occult Spica during the day. That's be pretty interesting, wouldn't it?

Want to know how to find and see sights like this and more in the night sky with binoculars or a small telescope? Check out the homepage. For recent videos of other celestial sights to see, click the "Videos" link at the top of this page.

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The Nightlight

This blog includes what to see in the night and daytime skies, thoughts on telescopes, binoculars, and other astronomy observing accessories and equipment, plus my own occasional notes on objects I've seen and observed. Oh, and the random theater or other "my take on life" post. In other words, there is always something interesting. Check it out.