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

The Moon will pass in front of Mars, creating a lunar occultation visible from countries and territories including Canada, Greenland, eastern Russia 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 San Diego.

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)
Canada 08:11–10:16
Greenland 08:30–10:08
Russia 07:48–09:44
Alaska 07:57–08:41
Sweden 08:55–10:04
Norway 08:50–10:05
Great Britain 09:17–10:22
Finland 08:51–09:53
Svalbard 08:36–09:39
Iceland 09:03–10:05
France 09:26–10:25
Ireland 09:22–10:21
Spain 09:40–10:34
Portugal 09:43–10:37
Denmark 09:15–10:08
Netherlands 09:22–10:16
Northern Ireland 09:22–10:17
Belgium 09:25–10:17
Germany 09:19–10:12
Faroe Islands 09:11–10:05
Shetland 09:12–10:06
The Portuguese Azores 09:56–10:42
Orkney 09:15–10:08
Svalbard and Jan Mayen 08:41–09:51
Isle of Man 09:24–10:16
Saint Pierre and Miquelon 09:53–10:08
Jersey 09:31–10:21
Guernsey 09:30–10:21
Madeira 10:02–10:45

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

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Mars 08h32m30s 22°16'N Cancer -0.9 0'13"

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
31 Jan 2023 05 May 2024 Occultations of Mars 14 Jan 2025 14 Jan 2025
27 Nov 2024 15 Dec 2024 Occultations 24 Dec 2024 14 Jan 2025

The sky on 18 Dec 2024

The sky on 18 December 2024
Sunrise
06:43
Sunset
16:44
Twilight ends
18:13
Twilight begins
05:14

17-day old moon
Waning Gibbous

85%

17 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:06 10:18 15:31
Venus 09:48 15:00 20:12
Moon 19:11 02:34 09:49
Mars 19:26 02:30 09:35
Jupiter 15:45 22:47 05:50
Saturn 11:16 16:57 22:38
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

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

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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