Another Solar Eclipse: Watch the Full Moon Pass in Front of Orange Star Aldebaran Tonight

Not quite that kind of eclipse. John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

This month's full moon was already special, since it appears almost large enough to be dubbed a supermoon. But there's another reason to get outside tonight and look up: The full moon will cross in front of Aldebaran, one of the brightest stars in the night sky.

You do need a little cosmic luck to catch the spectacle, however, since it won't be visible if you live too far west or south within the U.S. Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, Chicago, and Miami will all be able to see the phenomenon, but Denver, New Orleans, and Dallas won't. It will take about an hour for the moon to pass in front of Aldebaran.

If the moon passing in front of a star sounds awfully familiar, it should: that's more or less what the solar eclipse fuss was all about this August. The term eclipse is reserved for interactions between our own Moon and sun, so tonight's event is referred to as an occultation. Aldebaran is occulted fairly frequently because it happens to be located fairly close to what's called the ecliptic, which is the same path the sun follows.

Aldebaran is the 14th brightest star in the night sky. Its name comes from the Arabic for "the Follower," likely because of the way it trails behind the Pleiades, a clump of a half-dozen easy-to-see stars (and a thousand more only visible with a telescope) and the star is about 65 light-years away from us. Aldebaran marks the right eye of the constellation Taurus, the celestial bull, which humans have recognized for millennia.

To see whether your city is lucky, visit this website, scroll down to the section with U.S. in the second column, then look for your hometown in alphabetical order. The three numerals afterward represent the time in hours, minutes, and seconds at which the Moon will cross in front of Aldebaran, in universal time, which on Sunday will be five hours ahead of Eastern Time. (Here's a nifty tool for converting time zones.)

If you miss tonight's occultation, you'll have another chance about a month from now. That's because the Moon just so happens to be passing in front of Aldebaran every four weeks or so until September 3, 2018, in a series that started near the beginning of 2015. But of course, there's no guarantee the Moon will be so big and beautiful next time around.