Lunar Occultation

by Dominic Ford, Editor
Last updated: 16 Jul 2020
Lunar Occultation

The Moon occults Saturn in 2008 May. Image © Thomas Bresson.

A lunar occultation occurs when the Moon passes in front of a star or other astronomical object. Occultations of bright stars and planets typically occur a few times per year, often clustering with several occultations of the same object in successive months, since the Moon traces roughly the same path across the sky each month. These clusters come to an end after a few months, when gradual changes in the Moon's orbit change the Moon's path across the sky. Alternatively, in the case of planets, the planet's own movement will eventually carry it away from the Moon's path.

Since the Moon is much closer to the Earth than other celestial objects, its exact position in the sky differs depending on your exact location on Earth due to its large parallax. The position of the Moon as seen from two points on opposite sides of the Earth varies by up to two degrees, or four times the diameter of the full moon.

This means that no single lunar occultation can ever be visible across the whole Earth: if the Moon is aligned to pass in front of a particular object for an observer on one side of the Earth, it will appear up to two degrees away from that object on the other side of the Earth.

In-The-Sky.org lists all lunar occultations of the planets and stars brighter than second magnitude, and provides maps of where each occultation is visible. Each map shows separate contours for where the disappearance of the occulted object behind the Moon is visible (shown in red), and where its reappearance is visible (shown in blue). The solid contours show where each event is likely to be visible through binoculars at a reasonable altitude in the sky. Dotted contours indicate where each event occurs above the horizon, but may not be visible due to the sky being too bright or the Moon being very close to the horizon.

The KMZ files below can be opened in Google Earth to provide a more high-resolution view.

List of lunar occultations

The table below lists lunar occultations of the planets and stars brighter than second magnitude in 2023. To show events in other years, use the control below.

Change year

Lunar occultations in 2023

Date Visibility from
Cambridge
Disappear Reappear Object Visibility
map
Full description
of event
Date Visibility from
Cambridge
Disappear Reappear Object Visibility
map
Full description
of event
01 Jan 2023 Disappearance:
In daylight

 Reappearance:
In twilight
15:34 EST16:43 ESTUranusPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
03 Jan 2023 Not visibleMarsPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
17 Jan 2023 Not visibleDschubbaPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
29 Jan 2023 Not visibleUranusPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
31 Jan 2023 Not visibleMarsPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
14 Feb 2023 Not visibleDschubbaPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
17 Feb 2023 Not visibleNunkiPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
22 Feb 2023 Not visibleJupiterPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
28 Feb 2023 Not visibleMarsPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
13 Mar 2023 Not visibleDschubbaPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
24 Mar 2023 Not visibleVenusPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
09 Apr 2023 Not visibleDschubbaPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
07 May 2023 Not visibleDschubbaPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
17 May 2023 In daylight07:46 EDT08:58 EDTJupiterPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
03 Jun 2023 Not visibleDschubbaPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
30 Jun 2023 Not visibleDschubbaPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
28 Jul 2023 Not visibleDschubbaPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
24 Aug 2023 Not visibleDschubbaPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
25 Aug 2023 Low altitude22:52 EDT23:15 EDTAntaresPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
01 Sep 2023 Not visibleNeptunePNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
07 Sep 2023 Not visibleElnathPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
21 Sep 2023 Not visibleAntaresPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
04 Oct 2023 Not visibleElnathPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
18 Oct 2023 Not visibleAntaresPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
01 Nov 2023 Not visibleElnathPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
09 Nov 2023 Not visibleVenusPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
28 Nov 2023 Not visibleElnathPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
19 Dec 2023 Not visibleNeptunePNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »
26 Dec 2023 Not visibleElnathPNG | PDF | SVG | KMZMore »

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