Three Lunar Occultations in the Northern Zodiac


The waxing Moon continues its slow eastward campaign this month through the constellations of the northern zodiac. As it moves from first quarter to full, the Moon will occult three more bright stars over the next few days.

On March 28, the 5th-magnitude star 51 Geminorum passes behind the Moon for observers in the mid-western United States, all of Alaska, and most of Canada west of the Great Lakes, excluding the West Coast. In Chicago, for example, 51 Gem passes behind the Moon at 07:02 UT. In Fairbanks, Alaska, the occultation runs from 05:48 UT to 06:30 UT.

Also on March 28, for observers in Hawaii, 4th-magnitude λ (lambda) Geminorum undergoes a lunar occultation. Precise timing depends on location, but in Hilo, for example, the occultation of λ Gem runs from 09:07 UT to 10:09 UT. That’s nearly as long as a lunar occultation can last. The extreme southwestern part of the continental U.S. can see the occultation begin just before the Moon sets.

And on March 30, the Moon occults the 4th-magnitude star Acubens (α Cancri) in the constellation Cancer for observers in Alaska, British Columbia, and the Pacific Northwest. In Seattle, the occultation begins at 09:52 UT as the waxing gibbous Moon is low in the western sky.

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