Moon Plays Peekaboo With The Pleiades Tonight

The moon occults the Pleiades in 1990 — Bob King / News Tribune

This morning I was drawn to a chorus of robins kibbutzing in the poplars at the end of the road. I counted at least 40, and their combined chatter was a joy to hear. They clustered in the trees like another spring cluster I know, the Pleiades.

Tonight the crescent moon will glide in front of the dipper-shapped Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters, and block or occult several of its brighter stars. From our region, the moon will cross the northern half of the cluster, and the best time to see it will be between 8:30 and 10 o’clock. Zero in on the moon in the western sky to see the action.

Because the moon’s only a crescent, you can see the event with your naked eye but trust me, a pair of binoculars or small telescope will make the occultation much more enjoyable. With them, you’ll be able to watch the moon’s ghostly, earthlit border slowly approach individual stars. Be patient. The best part happens when the stars suddenly blip out as they’re covered by the moving moon. You have to see it to believe it.