Thin Crescent Covers The Beehive Cluster Wednesday Morning

Binocular view of the 6-percent illuminated crescent moon passing in front of the Beehive Star Cluster tomorrow morning (Aug. 28) at dawn. Stellarium

I apologize for being a little late with this but wanted to share the news because there’s still time to see it. Tomorrow morning (Aug. 28),  the very thin crescent moon will be making its last pass across the Beehive Cluster in Cancer until June 2026. The Beehive is a naked-eye star cluster that looks like a fuzzy spot in the constellation Cancer the Crab. Through binoculars that fuzz resolves into dozens of individual stars.

Tomorrow morning the very thin waning crescent moon will clear the trees shortly before the start of dawn. You probably won’t see the cluster with the unaided eye because of low altitude and minor moonlight, but binoculars will reveal a beautiful scene with the delicate moon hovering in the foreground against a patchwork of pretty stars. The moon’s path varies across the sky from year to year because its orbit is inclined about 5° to that of the Earth. Some years its path crosses the Beehive, others not. After tomorrow the moon will pass near but not over the cluster for more nearly 7 years.

As the pair rises higher and dawn begins, the bright lunar crescent will slowly cover the Beehive’s stars one after another. Observers in the East won’t get to see this because dawn will be underway when the first stars disappear behind the moon. Observers in the Midwest will catch a few of these occultations. But if you live in the western half of the country you’ll not only get to witness occultations at the moon’s bright limb but the reappearance of those stars about an hour later at the dark, earth-lit edge — a dramatic sight.

Click here to find your sunrise time then subtract about an hour and a half to arrive at the time when dawn first starts. Bring binoculars for the best view. If you don’t mind getting up about 5 a.m. or if you’re already up at that hour anyway, take a look low in the eastern sky and find the moon. Then point your binoculars (or telescope) that way and watch it intrude on the Beehive.