Friday, December 09, 2022

Planetary occultation – first lunar eclipse of Uranus – then Mars

The morning of December 8 will be especially beautiful: the full moon covers our neighboring planet Mars (Stellarium)

However, this seventh planet of the solar system can be seen only through a telescope. Tomorrow at around eight o’clock in the morning the moon will move in front of Uranus. But only then can the moon be formed in a clear day sky. During September and December, the occultation of Uranus is at night.

As the Moon orbits the Earth, it repeatedly passes in front of bright stars and planets. Because the Moon’s orbit changes its position in the sky slightly every 18 years, some objects have occasional “seasons”. This year, the Moon passes in front of Uranus and Mars more often. The morning of December 8 is going to be very spectacular.

Then the full moon moves in front of Mars, which is then at its best for two years and is very bright. This celestial coincidence is reminiscent of 2018, when Mars stood in close proximity to the full moon.

While the star is always only a point in the sky and therefore suddenly disappears behind the Moon, in the case of Uranus, it takes about seven seconds for the Moon to completely cover the minor planet’s disk. For Mars, which appears very large in the sky, it takes half a minute to disappear behind the Moon in December—and with any luck, it can be seen with the naked eye.

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