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Watch Mars Disappear Behind the Moon – Sky & Telescope

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Diana Hannikainen, Observing Editor
855-638-5388 x22100, diana@skyandtelescope.org

Gary Seronik, Consulting Editor

Notice to Editors/Producers: This launch is accompanied by high-quality graphics; see the top of this launch for the pictures and hyperlinks to obtain.

If it’s clear on the morning of Tuesday, February 18th, you possibly can see Mars wink out because the Moon passes in entrance of the Pink Planet in what is called an occultation. The Moon will cowl up Mars 5 occasions in 2020, however February’s occultation is the one one which will likely be accessible to viewers in a lot of North and Central America.

“You’ll need to stand up earlier than or at dawn to witness the occasion,” notes Diana Hannikainen (pronounced HUHN-ih-ky-nen), Sky & Telescope’s Observing Editor, “but when skies are clear at your location, it is going to be nicely price it.”

Search for the Moon low above the southeastern horizon, the place it is going to be a waning crescent on Tuesday morning. Which means the lit facet (or shiny limb) will likely be on the left facet of the lunar disk.

The Moon will likely be shifting leftward within the sky, towards Mars, because the occultation begins, and away from the planet because the occasion concludes. When the 2 meet, it’ll take about 14 seconds for the Moon to gobble Mars up. Whereas the Moon would instantaneously cowl up a star — as a result of stars, being so distant, are mere factors of sunshine — the method takes longer for Mars as a result of it presents a really small disk.

The Moon will cowl Mars for a time period between a couple of moments as much as an hour and a half, relying in your location. When the occasion concludes, the planet will reappear from behind the “darkish,” proper fringe of the lunar disk.

When Can You See Mars Disguise Behind the Moon?

So, at what time do it is advisable to be awake and outside as a way to witness this sight? That is dependent upon the place you might be.

For those who’re on the East Coast of the US or Canada, the occasion will happen after dawn and will likely be largely unobservable, except you are wanting with tools akin to binoculars. Midwestern areas ought to see the occultation start in daybreak twilight, with Mars re-emerging from behind the Moon round dawn. For these out West, the Moon hasn’t risen but on the time it covers Mars, however you’ll need to ensure you’re prepared for the planet’s reappearance: Because the sky will nonetheless be darkish when Mars emerges from behind the lunar crescent’s earthlit facet (the portion of the Moon faintly illuminated by daylight reflecting off Earth), fortunate viewers are in for a deal with — if it’s not cloudy, that’s.

Right here’s a choice of disappearance and reappearance occasions for U.S. cities:

New York Metropolis, NY — 7:36:37 a.m. / 9:05:49 a.m. EST
Atlanta, GA — 7:07:29 a.m. / eight:45:13 a.m. EST
Columbus, OH — 7:14:47 a.m. / eight:45:48 a.m. EST
Nashville, TN — 6:04:12 a.m. / 7:38:49 a.m. CST
Chicago, IL — 6:07:10 a.m. / 7:35:02 a.m. CST
Kansas Metropolis, MO — 5:52:48 a.m. / 7:20:43 a.m. CST
Phoenix, AZ — four:37:27 a.m. / 5:40:07 a.m. MST
Boise, ID — Reappearance solely at 5:49:02 a.m. MST
San Francisco, CA — Reappearance solely at four:30:57 a.m. PST
Seattle, WA — Reappearance solely at four:47:41 a.m. PST

For a extra complete checklist of areas in North and Central America, click on here.

Tips on how to See Mars Disappear

For those who’re in japanese or midwestern locales of North America, it’s possible you’ll want binoculars to witness this occasion if it is occurring throughout shiny morning twilight. For those who’re utilizing binoculars, maintain them as regular as doable, maybe by propping your elbows on a tough floor. A telescope will likely be even higher — when you don’t have entry to at least one your self, you’ll be able to verify your native astronomy membership listings to see if a close-by membership is internet hosting a viewing celebration. Observers out West will want nothing however their eyes to witness the reappearance of the Pink Planet, however binoculars or a telescope will enormously improve the expertise.

Sky & Telescope is making the illustrations under accessible to editors and producers. Permission is granted for one-time, nonexclusive use in print and broadcast media, so long as acceptable credit (as famous) are included. Net publication should embrace a hyperlink to SkyandTelescope.com.

Viewers in a lot of North and Central America will likely be handled to fairly a sight on the morning of Tuesday February 18th, earlier than or round dawn. The waning crescent Moon will go in entrance of Mars, making the Pink Planet disappear for some time. As a bonus, Jupiter and Saturn hover close by. Click on here for a high-definition (1920 x 1080 px) model.
Sky & Telescope / Gregg Dinderman

Ron Dantowitz took this picture in Bonita Springs, Florida, through the June 2003 Mars occultation occasion. Notice that for the February 2020 occultation Mars could have rotated and will not current the identical options.
Ron Dantowitz

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