Thursday morning can bring astronomy lovers an extraordinary experience. There will be two phenomena on this day – the opposition of Mars and the occultation of Mars by the Moon. Check when it’s worth looking at the sky.
On Thursday, December 8, we will have the opportunity to see two interesting astronomical phenomena. One of them is the opposition of Mars. This means that our planet will be in one line between the Sun and the Red Planet – informs the Meteorological Modeling Center of the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management (CMM IMGW).
The second, even more interesting phenomenon will be the occultation of Mars by the disk of the Full Moon. Something like this happens on average once every 14 years, but there are regions with a higher frequency. On December 8 in the morning, the Moon and the covered Mars will be quite high above the horizon, unlike two years ago – notes CMM IMGW.
Occlusion of Mars by the Moon. When to look at the sky?
On Thursday, Mars and our natural satellite will be in the constellation of Taurus. There will be a full moon at 5.08. More than an hour later, because at 6.42 it will happen opposition between Mars and the Sun. The start time of the individual stages of the phenomenon is given for central Poland (Łódź).
As noted by the CMM IMGW, the occultation is a grateful phenomenon to observe, also by video recorders. A less favorable circumstance is the fact that the Moon will be 1.5 hours after full. Therefore, it is worth equipping yourself with strong binoculars or a telescope with a mirror diameter of 10-15 centimeters. But even observation with the naked eye can bring a lot of satisfaction.
The occultations of the planets by the Moon are spectacular (compared to the occultations of stars) because the planets have certain angular sizes for the earthly observer and the time that elapses between the first contact (the contact of the planet’s disk with the edge of the Moon) and the moment of complete occultation of the planet by the Silver Globe, on average, lasts about 34-36 seconds. It depends on the angular size of the planet’s disk and the speed of the Moon in orbit, writes CMM IMGW.
What will the phenomenon of the occultation of Mars by the Moon look like?
How will this phenomenon take place? Just before the occultation begins, one of its natural satellites, Phobos, will be in the background of the Martian shield. The second moon of Deimos will be found to the southwest of the planet.
As described by the CMM IMGW, the moving Moon will first obscure Deimos, and about 49 seconds later the eastern edge of the Moon’s disk will be in contact with the western edge of the Martian surface. About 30 seconds later, the disk of the Red Planet will be obscured by the disk of the Moon.
After 51 minutes and 42 seconds (for Lodz), Deimos will initially emerge from behind the Moon’s disk, after 5 seconds, Phobos will appear at the western edge of the Moon. After another 12 seconds, the shield of the Red Planet will begin to emerge from behind the Silver Globe. After 30 seconds, the western edge of the Martian disk will be in contact with the eastern edge of the Moon, and then the phenomenon will end. Mars will be completely exposed.
How to watch?
As noted by the CMM IMGW, if we want to see a phenomenon in the sky, it is worth going to the observation site 20 minutes earlier. Firstly, to set up the equipment, but (more importantly) to accustom the eye to night vision. Full adaptation of the eye can take up to 40 minutes. In addition, it is worth going to observe also when we do not have the appropriate equipment.
Main photo source: NASA