Monday, March 14, 2016

Aldebaran Occultation

During the last year (and the one to come) there is an occultation of Aldebaran almost every month. However none of these occultations were visible from Israel. Not until today. Even when we finally can see the occultation, it was during the day, making it impossible to see with the naked eye.
Though let's not panic, Aldebaran is bright enough and can easily be seen with a telescope. The sky was not very clear but as I saw that it was only partially cloudy, I left work early and headed home to setup the telescope.
The first problem was to setup the mount correctly without seeing Polaris. Of course I should have set it up the night before but I was worried it might rain during the night and I didn't want to leave it outside even with a cover. So I "guesstimated" where the north is and hoped for the best, knowing that I would be making manual corrections during the observation.
Positioning the scope was easy. Next, I had to decide how to photograph the reappearance of Alderbaran. I chose a new method, which I had never tried previously, as I was using my brand new Nikon Coolpix P900 with an enormous zoom piggybacked on the scope.
Everything was ready and I just had to wait. I started a video recording and watched through the eyepiece. It was quite windy so the camera shook a little but in the video, you will be able to see the moon and suddenly a bright white dot! Yep - Aldebaran! Seeing it clearly through the eyepiece (in small magnification) was a very spectacular sight indeed.
So who said is it impossible to see stars during the day? BTW, Aldebaran's distance from Earth is 65 light years (the moon is only 1 light second) and its radius is 44 of that of the Sun. A real giant!
First of all here is a photo of my setup:
My telescope and camera
My telescope and camera
Exact setup is: Bresser N130 on EQ6-Pro (For visual) + Nikon P900 piggyback for the photos and videos.

Here is the video and some photos. In the video Aldebaran appears after about 6 seconds position equivalent to 2 o'clock. (make sure that you watch the video in HD on full screen).

You will probably need to enlarge the photo as well. Notice Aldebaran on the bottom right (4 o'clock).
Aldebaran just 4 minutes after reappearance
  Aldebaran just 4 minutes after reappearance

And a photo when it got darker and Aldebaran could be seen with the naked eye
Aldebaran 90 minutes after reappearance
Aldebaran 90 minutes after reappearance

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