The Moon will pass in front of Mercury, creating a lunar occultation visible from countries and territories including Canada, western Russia, Greenland and Alaska amongst others. Although the occultation will only be visible across part of the world – because the Moon is so close to the Earth that its position in the sky varies by as much as two degrees across the world – a close conjunction between the pair will be more widely visible.
Unfortunately the occultation will not be visible from Ashburn, though it will be visible from western parts of the Contiguous United States.
The map below shows the visibility of the occultation across the world. Separate contours show where the disappearance of Mercury is visible (shown in red), and where its reappearance is visible (shown in blue). 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.
Outside the contours, the Moon will not pass in front of Mercury at any time, or is below the horizon at the time of the occultation. However, a close conjunction between the pair will be visible across much of the world.
The animation below shows the path of the occultation across the Earth's globe. The red circle shows where the Moon appears in front of Mercury.
A complete list of the countries and territories where the occultation will be visible is as follows:
|The Contiguous United States||14:03–04:43|
|Svalbard and Jan Mayen||02:53–20:17|
Lunar occultations are only ever visible from a small fraction of the Earth's surface. 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 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.
The position of Mercury at the moment of the occultation will be as follows:
|Object||Right Ascension||Declination||Constellation||Magnitude||Angular Size|
The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.
|« Previous||Next »|
|Visible from the Contiguous United States||Worldwide||Worldwide||Visible from the Contiguous United States|
|09 Jun 1983||29 Jul 2000||Occultations of Mercury||25 Nov 2003||03 Nov 2021|
|17 Jul 2001||17 Jul 2001||Occultations||14 Aug 2001||15 Aug 2001|
The sky on 24 Sep 2023
|The sky on 24 September 2023|
9 days old
All times shown in EDT.
The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE430 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.
|14 Jul 2001||– Mercury at highest altitude in morning sky|
|07 Sep 2001||– Mercury at highest altitude in evening sky|
|18 Sep 2001||– Mercury at greatest elongation east|
|29 Oct 2001||– Mercury at highest altitude in morning sky|
The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.