The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.

Lunar occultation of Mars

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Lunar Occultations feed

Objects: Mars
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The Moon will pass in front of Mars, creating a lunar occultation visible from countries and territories including the Contiguous United States, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela 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.

The occultation will be visible from San Diego. It will begin with the disappearance of Mars behind the Moon at 20:32 PST in the south-western sky at an altitude of 75.8 degrees. Its reappearance will be visible at 21:37 PST at an altitude of 62.8 degrees.

The map below shows the visibility of the occultation across the world. Separate contours show where the disappearance of Mars 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.

Map showing where the occultation is visible

Outside the contours, the Moon will not pass in front of Mars 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 map can be downloaded in PNG , PDF or SVG format. A KMZ file , is also available, which can be opened in Google Earth to provide a higher resolution map.

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 Mars.

You can download this video in MP4 or OGG format.

A complete list of the countries and territories where the occultation will be visible is as follows:

Country Time span
(UTC)
The Contiguous United States 04:31–06:31
Mexico 04:19–06:39
Colombia 05:33–06:47
Venezuela 05:41–06:47
Peru 05:49–06:41
Ecuador 05:47–06:41
Cuba 05:28–06:39
Nicaragua 05:26–06:44
Honduras 05:22–06:43
Guatemala 05:17–06:40
Panama 05:34–06:46
Brazil 05:47–06:42
Costa Rica 05:30–06:44
Dominican Republic 05:43–06:41
Haiti 05:40–06:41
Bahamas 05:40–06:36
Belize 05:20–06:40
El Salvador 05:21–06:41
Jamaica 05:36–06:42
Puerto Rico 05:47–06:38
Guadeloupe 05:50–06:37
Turks and Caicos Islands 05:46–06:34
British Virgin Islands 05:50–06:35
Cayman Islands 05:32–06:40
Curacao 05:43–06:45
Saint Kitts and Nevis 05:50–06:36
U.S. Virgin Islands 05:49–06:36
Antigua and Barbuda 05:51–06:35
Anguilla 05:51–06:34
Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba 05:44–06:45
Dominica 05:49–06:35
Montserrat 05:50–06:36
Aruba 05:43–06:45
Sint Maarten 05:51–06:34
Saint Barthelemy 05:51–06:34
Saint Martin 05:51–06:34
Clipperton Island 04:42–05:59
Navassa Island 05:39–06:41

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.

At the time of the occultation, the Moon will be 6 days past new moon and will be 74% illuminated. Mars will disappear behind the unilluminated side of the Moon and reappear from behind the illuminated side of the Moon.

The position of Mars at the moment of the occultation will be as follows:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Mars 04h30m40s 24°36'N Taurus -0.3 0'10"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

Next/previous occultations

« Previous Next »
Visible from the Contiguous United States Worldwide Worldwide Visible from the Contiguous United States
08 Dec 2022 03 Jan 2023 Occultations of Mars 28 Feb 2023 14 Jan 2025
21 Dec 2022 29 Jan 2023 Occultations 14 Feb 2023 17 May 2023

The sky on 30 Jan 2023

The sky on 30 January 2023
Sunrise
06:42
Sunset
17:18
Twilight ends
18:43
Twilight begins
05:17

9-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous

78%

9 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:12 10:16 15:19
Venus 08:03 13:36 19:09
Moon 12:16 19:36 03:02
Mars 12:27 19:38 02:50
Jupiter 09:25 15:30 21:36
Saturn 07:36 13:01 18:26
All times shown in PST.

Source

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.

Related news

12 Jan 2023  –  Mars ends retrograde motion
06 Dec 2024  –  Mars enters retrograde motion
12 Jan 2025  –  Mars at perigee
15 Jan 2025  –  Mars at opposition

Image credit

The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.

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