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

Lunar occultation of Spica

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Lunar Occultations feed

Objects: Spica
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The Moon will pass in front of Spica (Alpha Virginis), creating a lunar occultation visible from Africa. 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 Ashburn. It will begin with the disappearance of Spica (Alpha Virginis) behind the Moon at 11:33 EDT, though in daylight. Its reappearance will be visible at 12:32 EDT, though in daylight.

Extreme caution is necessary when pointing binoculars or telescopes at the sky when the Sun is above the horizon, as even a momentary glance at the Sun through such an instrument can cause permanent blindness.

The map below shows the visibility of the occultation across the world. Separate contours show where the disappearance of Spica (Alpha Virginis) 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 Spica (Alpha Virginis) 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.

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

Country Time span
(UTC)
Niger 18:13–19:25
Nigeria 18:19–19:37
Mali 18:01–19:19
Cameroon 18:28–19:40
Algeria 18:18–19:02
Ivory Coast 18:01–19:31
Republic of the Congo 18:36–19:42
Burkina Faso 18:05–19:23
Gabon 18:34–19:42
Chad 18:27–19:25
Ghana 18:10–19:32
Angola 18:44–19:41
Central African Republic 18:32–19:27
Benin 18:16–19:32
Democratic Republic of the Congo 18:42–19:41
Liberia 18:00–19:28
Togo 18:14–19:32
Equatorial Guinea 18:30–19:41
Guinea 18:00–19:22
Sao Tome and Principe 18:31–19:40
Libya 18:36–18:46

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 12% illuminated. Spica (Alpha Virginis) will disappear behind the unilluminated side of the Moon and reappear from behind the illuminated side of the Moon.

The position of Spica (Alpha Virginis) at the moment of the occultation will be as follows:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Spica (Alpha Virginis) 13h25m10s 11°09'S Virgo 1.1 0'00"

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
14 Jul 2024 10 Aug 2024 Occultations of Spica (Alpha Virginis) 27 Nov 2024 27 Nov 2024
14 Jul 2024 05 Sep 2024 Occultations 10 Sep 2024 17 Sep 2024

The sky on 6 Sep 2024

The sky on 6 September 2024
Sunrise
06:40
Sunset
19:31
Twilight ends
21:04
Twilight begins
05:08

3-day old moon
Waxing Crescent

14%

3 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:12 11:59 18:46
Venus 08:47 14:41 20:34
Moon 09:56 15:33 21:02
Mars 00:43 08:08 15:34
Jupiter 23:58 07:19 14:40
Saturn 19:39 01:17 06:55
All times shown in EDT.

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.

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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Ashburn

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Longitude:
Timezone:

39.04°N
77.49°W
EST

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