The Moon will pass in front of Mars, creating a lunar occultation visible from parts of Africa, the Americas and Portugal.
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.
On this occasion, the occultation will be visible from Ashburn. It will begin with the disappearance of Mars behind the Moon at 21:15 ESTin the eastern sky at an altitude of 45.9 degrees. Its reappearance will be visible at 22:30 ESTat an altitude of 60.4 degrees.
At the time of the occultation, the Moon will be 15 days past new moon and will be 100% illuminated. Mars will disappear behind the illuminated side of the Moon and reappear from behind the unilluminated side of the Moon.
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.
Outside of the contours, the Moon does not pass in front of Mars at any time, or is below the horizon at the time of the occultation.
The position of Mars 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.
|The sky on 13 January 2025|
14 days old
All times shown in EST.
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.
|12 Jan 2025||– Mars at perigee|
|15 Jan 2025||– Mars at opposition|
|19 Feb 2027||– Mars at opposition|
|19 Feb 2027||– Mars at perigee|
The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.