A rare full moon eclipse on Mars surprises astrologers with an occultation
Sky watchers around the world were treated to a celestial show on Wednesday (December 7) as the full moon eclipsed Mars in the night sky.
The rare event known as a lunar occultation involves a single celestial body—in this case, Mars — seems to disappear or hide behind another — in this case, the moon. This occultation was particularly remarkable because Mars was in opposition, ie The Earth was right between it and the sun, making the Red Planet appear especially bright in night sky.
Last night’s occultation of Mars by full moon produced some wonderful images from observers around the world. Griffith Observatory in California had a great view The moon and Mars joined on December 7 and captured a time-lapse of the Red Planet disappearing behind Earth’s celestial satellite, as seen in the video above.
In addition, sky watchers around the world are posting gorgeous images of the Mars lunar occultation on social media, offering a glimpse into one of the most watched celestial events of the year.
Astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy caught mars and the full moon (opens in new tab) in a beautiful close-up:
This is the moment Mars peeked out from behind our moon after being hidden for an hour. This shot was captured using my largest telescope and a special high-speed camera. Seeing another planet rise on the horizon of our moon was such a surreal experience. pic.twitter.com/8IctbVXuUMDecember 8, 2022
Spaceflight photographer John Kraus captured a stunning photo of mars (opens in new tab) as it appeared behind the moon after an occultation:
Amateur astrophotographer Tom Williams created a magnificent image of the Moon and Mars by combining multiple photos and offered an explanation of how he made the image (opens in new tab) on Twitter.
The lunar #occultation of #Mars in 2022! This is a crop of a wider image and shows the red planet in its descent behind the eastern lunar limb, taken last night from home. Sinus Gomer is in the center with Syrtis Major at the top. See processing thread. What an event! #astrophotography pic.twitter.com/IBNiW8mA9cDecember 8, 2022
Amateur astronomer and photographer Tom Glenn created breathtaking photo of Mars (opens in new tab) rising above the moon by arranging 15 different photo frames.
#Mars rises above the lunar limb. This is a stack of 15 frames taken at 2 second intervals during the end of the #Moon occultation. Shot with C9.25 Edge HD and ASI678mc. pic.twitter.com/xrDiI3d7keDecember 8, 2022
Astronomer and science communicator Phil Plait has been captured Mars is creeping behind the moon (opens in new tab) just before the occultation.
Moon and Mars a few minutes before #occultation. I shot this through my bedroom window using the spotting scope and camera phone (hence the strong reflection of the moon in the upper left). Look at the color contrast! The occultation was cool so… https://t.co/lpxYVpmbmi pic.twitter.com/SUISrvttx7December 8, 2022
The lunar occultation of Mars by the full Cold Moon was particularly remarkable because the Red Planet only appears in opposition every 26 months, so the next opposition will not occur until January 2025.
Mars was also particularly close to Earth during this event, which occurred while the planet was at perigee, or its closest point to Earth in its orbit. The record for closest approach between Mars and Earth was set in 2003 at just 34.8 million miles (56 million kilometers); According to NASA, Mars and Earth won’t be this close for another 265 years, until 2287.
Editor’s note: If you take a great photo of Mars in opposition or a lunar occultation and would like to share it with Space.com readers, send your photos, comments, and your name and location to [email protected].
Editor’s note: This piece was updated at 4:30 p.m. EST (2130 GMT) on December 8 to show that the record for Mars’ closest approach to Earth was set in 2003.
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