On Thursday evening the waning gibbous moon will be in the constellation Taurus - among the stars of the Hyades star cluster and close to the glowing eye of the Bull - the bright star Aldebaran. The picture on the left shows the scene at 8pm on Thursday Oct 29th.
The Hyades and Aldebaran make a V-shaped pattern which is easy enough to see even when the moon is signposting it. A little higher in the sky are the Pleaides - one of the most famous clusters of stars in the night sky.
During the course of Thursday evening the moon will pass in front of Aldebaran, an event called an occultation. From Northumberland Aldebaran will be occulted by the lunar disk from 9.56pm until 10.49pm.
Historically, occultations like this have provided astronomers with useful information about both the moon and the star but you don't need to be a professional astronomer to enjoy this little eclipse!
The moon moves slowly eastwards across the sky. It's hard to tell that because viewing from our spinning planet seems to make to the moon (and everything else in the sky) move west to east. In fact the moon travels eastwards along its orbit at a rate of around 0.55 degrees per hour. The moon covers a distance equal to its own diameter in about half an hour. As I said, that motion is largely disguised by the daily westward motion caused by the Earth's rotation.
Occultations like this one provide an easy way to see the true motion of the moon (just as lunar and solar eclipses also do) by passing in front of a bright star for a brief period of time.
This event is probably best seen through binoculars and telescopes. Aldebaran will disappear behind the bright limb of the moon at 9.56pm (the exact time depends on your location; further away from Northumberland you can expect this time vary by more than a few minutes).
In Northumberland Aldebaran will be hidden by the moon for just over 50 minutes. The reappearance will be easier to observe - Aldebaran will pop out from behind the dark limb of the moon.
Aldebaran will be occulted by the moon again next month, but it happens shortly after the moon has set in the UK. There will be two more opportunities to see Aldebaran eclipsed in this way in the next few months from the UK: December 23rd and January 20th.
Dr Adrian Jannetta
Guitar strummin' explorer of the universe. Mild mannered maths teacher by day and astronomer by night.