Happy Wednesday everyone! For week 47 our side quest will be a really neat astronomical phenomena known as an occultation! Tonight the full Moon will pass right in front of Mars causing the red planet to seemingly disappear from the night sky for an hour!
The pictures below include screenshots from Stellarium showing the position of the Moon and Mars at 7pm PST from Seattle, WA – about a half hour after the occultation starts.
This animation shows a time-lapse of the Moon passing in front of Mars from the same location.
The map is from in-the-sky.org and shows the visibility of this event across the globe.
To view this special side quest all you need is clear skies and to be in the right part of the globe. No binoculars or telescope necessary (but will still be great to use if you have em). Because Mars is just about at opposition – meaning the Earth is between the Sun and Mars which makes Mars especially bright – it will be especially easy to see with the naked eye.
Stargazers from much of North America and part of Europe and Northern Africa will be able to see Mars disappear completely behind the Moon. If you aren’t in the right place, that’s ok! Mars will still appear to be super close to the Moon which will also be a delight to see. I’m in Florida so I won’t be able to see Mars completely disappear, but I’m still excited. If you have cloudy skies, that’s ok too because still watch the whole thing via Griffith Observatory’s livestream!
Instead of our usual 10pm side-quest time, you’ll need to go out a little earlier. For west coast stargazers Mars will disappear behind the Moon at 6:31 pm then reappear at 7:31 pm. To check the exact time for your area go to in-the-sky.org.
Let us know if you got to see Mars disappear tonight! Be sure to tag @stargazingsidequest @liminal.earth and #WUFO so we can boost and celebrate your stargazing achievement for this week! I’m excited to see your Moon+Mars pics and will be sharing them on IG stories!
For the livestream from Griffith Observatory, visit https://griffithobservatory.org/event/lunar-occultation-of-mars-broadcast-december-7-2022/. You can also follow the observatory on IG at @griffithobservatory
To learn more, visit https://in-the-sky.org/news.php?id=20221208_16_100