As the moon crossed in front of one of the brightest stars in the night sky last weekend, photographers across the U.S. caught the stellar vanishing act on camera.
On Saturday (March 4), the moon eclipsed the bright star Aldebaran for viewers in North and Central America. This occultation looked different for skywatchers across the country, depending on their viewing location. Space.com's readers captured the stellar event from different angles, and all of the views are amazing — especially this video of Aldebaran emerging from behind the moon.
The star disappeared behind the moon for more than an hour for viewers in the southern U.S., while skywatchers closer to the Canadian border could watch the star flicker as it appeared to graze the moon's textured surface.
Scott MacNeill of the Frosty Drew Observatory in Rhode Island watched the moon's occultation of Aldebaran along the graze line, where the twinkling star barely skimmed the moon. Braving the freezing cold and intense winds, MacNeill spent 45 minutes creating a composite image with photos taken every 90 seconds to show the star's path along the moon's edge.
Photographer and Royal Astronomical Society fellow Victor Rogus waited patiently under a cloudy sky in his backyard in Arcadia, Florida, in hopes of glimpsing the moon's occultation of Aldebaran. "Unfortunately for me, the first part of the occultation was hopelessly obscured by clouds," Rogus told Space.com in an email. "Somewhat heartbroken, I waited the hour or so for a chance to image the last part of the occultation. After a short coffee break, I stepped outside again, and to my joyful surprise, the sky had cleared to almost crystal clarity!"
The clouds parted just in time for Rogus to see a twinkling Aldebaran reappear from behind the moon. But even when clouds blocked his view, Rogus found a way to see the beginning of the occultation using some photography tricks. He created a video using negative-color images to make Aldebaran stand out.
Another astrophotographer, Gowrishankar L., captured the exact moment when Aldebaran ventured behind the moon's edge from a park near Doodletown, New York. He took one photo that shows the detailed moon crossing in front of a faint star.
To make Aldebaran stand out more, he overexposed another photo while the moon was first beginning to occult the star. The increased exposure also makes the moon's terminator, or the line between its dark and illuminated sides, stand out with its interesting, jagged texture.
"It was one of the craziest astroimaging trip that I've ever taken since the weather was really inhospitable," Gowrishankar told Space.com in an email. "But am glad I was able to capture the occultation."
Editor's note: If you capture an amazing night-sky photo that you'd like to share with us and our news partners for a story or gallery, send images and comments to managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.